Why Seasons Can Affect State Of Mind

As the spring sunshine arrives to awaken us from our winter gloom, Scottish scientists have finally clocked on to why the changing seasons affect our state of mind. Researchers from Edinburgh University have identified a part of the brain which co-ordinates the annual biological clock.

Their discovery could shed light on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and help explain why our appetite increases in winter, leading people to put on weight. It could also help travellers understand the changes that occur in our body when flying across time zones into different seasons.

The “circannual” body clock was located in the pituitary gland of the brain by Dr Gerald Lincoln, of the university’s Centre for Reproductive Biology.

Surprisingly, he found that the clock works on a 10-month cycle. “This means our cells need to be radically re-set to make sure we are in sync with the outside environment and the changing seasons,” he said.

“Interestingly, we re-set our body calendar every summer, when increased light inhibits the production of melatonin. This could partly explain why the arrival of sunshine now in spring makes us feel so much happier.”