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Women prone to mood swings prompted by season, daylight

Women experience seasonal changes in their mood across the year, including more depression in winter, regardless of social and lifestyle factors, a study shows


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Women experience seasonal changes in their mood across the year, including more depression in winter, a study shows.

These mood changes in women appear to be independent of social and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, alcohol use and physical activity, according to the research conducted by the University of Glasgow.

Such seasonality of symptoms was not found in men, it showed.

Depressive symptoms

The researchers performed a cross-sectional analysis of more than 150,000 people and analysed data to assess evidence of seasonal variation by scoring ‘total depressive symptoms’.

They also recorded symptoms of low mood, tenseness and tiredness and anhedonia – an inability to enjoy previously pleasurable activities.

Shorter lengths of daylight were associated with increased low mood and anhedonia scores in women, with depressive symptoms peaking in winter, researchers found.

One of the authors, the university’s professor of psychiatry Daniel Smith, said the findings could ‘aid the recognition and treatment of depressive symptoms across the calendar year’.


Lyall L et al (2017) Seasonality of depressive symptoms in women but not in men: a cross-sectional study in the UK Biobank cohort. Journal of Affective Disorders. doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2017.12.106

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