Does the weather make us sad? Meteorological determinants of mood and depression in the general population

M.J.H. Huibers*, L.E. de Graaf, F.P.M.L. Peeters, A.R. Arntz

*Corresponding author for this work

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It is a common and well-spread belief that people feel more depressed when the weather is bad. However, whether meteorological factors such as temperature, sunshine and rainfall can actually account for variations in the prevalence of depression in the general population has yet to be investigated. We aimed to assess the influence of weather conditions on the seasonal variation of depression observed in the general population. We used data from a large-scale depression-screening programme in the south of the Netherlands. Seasonal prevalence of DSM-IV classified major depression and sad mood in a sample of 14,478 participants from the general population was calculated, and linked to mean daily temperature, duration of sunshine and duration of rainfall in logistic regression analyses. The prevalence of major depression and sad mood showed seasonal variation, with peaks in the summer and fall. Weather conditions were not associated with mood, and did not explain the seasonal variation we found. We conclude that, contrary to popular belief, weather conditions and sad mood or depression do not seem to be associated. Future studies might use daily measures of well-being as outcome. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-146
Number of pages4
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2010


  • Depression
  • Seasonal prevalence
  • Meteorological factors
  • General population study


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