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J Biol Rhythms. 2000 Aug;15(4):344-50.

Seasonal variation of depression and other moods: a longitudinal approach.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 01003, USA.


The present study examined the effect of season of the year on depression and other moods. Previous work, primarily cross sectional or retrospective in design and involving clinically depressed or seasonally affective disordered samples, has suggested that mood changes as a function of season. However, the literature also shows conflicting and/or inconsistent findings about the extent and nature of this relationship. Importantly, these prior studies have not adequately answered the question of whether there is a seasonal effect in nondepressed people. The present study employed a longitudinal design and a large sample drawn from a normal population. The results, based on those participants for whom mood measures were collected in each season, demonstrated strong seasonal effects. Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores were highest in winter and lowest in summer. Ratings on scales of hostility, anger, irritability, and anxiety also showed very strong seasonal effects. Further analyses revealed that seasonal variation in BDI scores differed for females and males. Females had higher BDI scores that showed strong seasonal variation, whereas males had lower BDI scores that did not vary significantly across season of the year.

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