I wrote recently about how weather can affect your mood (meteoropathy). Given that we have had such an unusual summer I thought I would expand on this and look at some specific effects.   A 2019 animal study suggests drops in atmospheric pressure, for example ahead of a storm, can stimulate the production of stress hormones. This in turn can sensitise nerve endings and explains why some people’s chronic pain becomes worse.

But high temperatures can also increase your stress levels.  Research from 2018 links higher temperatures to increased agitation and anxiety. Warm, sunny weather can improve brainpower by making you feel more open to information, boosting your memory and improving in attentiveness, if you have ADHD. It can also make people more tolerant of financial risk.

Evidence suggests people are more likely to attempt suicide in the spring and early summer. It’s not understood why, but there are some theories:

  • More sunlight exposure and solar radiation may prompt a shift in neurotransmitter levels.
  • Rapidly rising temperatures could trigger a mood episode, particularly for people with bipolar disorder.
  • High pollen counts may prompt inflammation in the brain and worsen mental health symptoms.

For most people, weather has only a minor effect on mental and physical health. For example, Jennie (South Korean Musician) who said, “My style varies on my mood or the weather of the day”. However, for about 30% of people, shifts in weather can cause symptoms such as trouble concentrating, insomnia, irritability, migraine and pain around old scars or injuries.

Major depression can occur at any time of year. However, symptoms can be more frequent during colder weather. According to an Eastern European study of nearly 7000 participants, you’re more likely to have depression symptoms during November and December, when the temperature falls below 32°F (0°C), when the wind speed is higher than on previous days or if it snowed within the last two days.

Research from 2020 also suggests that people with bipolar disorder and a history of suicide attempts tend to have greater sensitivity to weather and have more severe meteoropathy symptoms. Episodes of depression occur more frequently in winter, while episodes of mania occur more frequently in spring and summer.

It’s been found that individuals in both mild climates and harsh climates had much the same reactions to heat exposure. Research from 2017 has also linked the rising temperatures of climate change to increasing levels of violence globally. As temperatures increase, stress, impulsivity and aggression rise. And these can also then play a part in more frequent collective violence, like riots and wars. This is also true of interpersonal violence, such as assault, homicide and sexual assault.

If you suspect you might be sensitive to weather changes, consider these tips:

  • Keep a mood journal so you can track how different weather patterns affect you.
  • Monitor the weather forecast so you can prepare low-stress schedules for difficult days.
  • Stay inside during harsh weather. If your home doesn’t have heating or air conditioning, you may want to visit your nearest emergency warming or cooling centre.

Meteoropathy usually lasts for a few days and disappears once the weather changes. If any mental health symptoms you experience do last more than a day or so, or keep you from doing the things you usually would, you may want to contact a healthcare professional for more help. They can help rule out any underlying conditions and offer more guidance on treatment options.



‘A sunny disposition’, ‘A face like thunder’, ‘Being under the weather’ – the English language is full of references to the ways weather can affect our mood, energy and even mental health. The rule of thumb is that cold is bad and warm is good, but personal preference does play a part. A study from 2011 found that we all typically fall into one of four categories when it comes to weather:

  • Summer lovers: Your mood improves with warm, sunny weather.
  • Summer haters: Your mood declines with warm, sunny weather.
  • Rain haters: Your mood declines on rainy, stormy days.
  • Unaffected: Weather doesn’t affect your mood very much at all.

So, which are you? Knowing this might help you navigate the winter blues or the summer’s hot weather. If you are not sure, keeping a journal might help. Note the weather, how you feel and any other information you think might be useful. Once you know you can monitor the weather forecast so you can prepare a low-stress schedule for days you will find difficult. And, of course, remember what William Arthur Ward (American motivational writer) said, “A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition”.

A different study has revealed that about 30% of people are significantly affected by the weather. This is known as Meteoropathy. There are certain groups of people who are more susceptible to this. Namely, women, older adults, people with the personality trait neuroticism and those who have a diagnosed mood disorder. Common symptoms include fatigue, irritability, poor concentration and apathy, hypersensitivity to pain, headache, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia and pain around old scars or injuries. These symptoms disappear or significantly improve when the weather changes.

Jerzy Kosinski (Polish-American novelist) certainly seems to have been a sufferer. He said, “In London, the weather would affect me negatively. I react strongly to light. If it is cloudy and raining, there are clouds and rain in my soul”.

As a rule, winter weather tells your body it’s time to shelter and hibernate, using less energy during the colder months. Warmer temperatures can boost your energy along with your mood, but only up to a certain level (depending on what you are used to). After that, the heat may make you tired and feel the urge to escape to somewhere cooler.

Daylight and strong sunlight can also impacts energy. It stimulates the production of vitamin D and it also tells your circadian clock to be awake, while darkness tells it that it’s time to sleep. So, long, bright days can energise you, while short or cloudy days will make you feel tired and sleepier.

No matter where you are in the world the weather can have an impact on you. In the northern hemisphere we are in summer and battling some extreme hot weather.