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January 28, 2016

Study suggests winter blues aren't real

Mental Health Winter
Winter Weather Jim Cole/AP

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

A new study suggests that there is no real evidence of the notion of winter blues, or seasonal depression, according to research published in "Clinical Psychological Science," a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study challenges the concept of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is described by the Mayo Clinic as a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons

"In conversations with colleagues, the belief in the association of seasonal changes with depression is more-or-less taken as a given and the same belief is widespread in our culture," Steven LoBello, a professor of psychology at Auburn University at Montgomery and senior author on the study, said in a statement.

"We analyzed the data from many angles and found that the prevalence of depression is very stable across different latitudes, seasons of the year, and sunlight exposures."

For the study, the researchers examined data from a total of 34,294 participants ranging in age from 18 to 99. Depressive symptoms were measured using the PHQ-8, which asked participants how many days in the previous two weeks they had experienced given symptoms of depression. 

Researchers also obtained season-related measures, including the actual day of the year, the latitude and the amount of sunlight exposure by using geographic location for each participant.

The results showed no evidence that symptoms of depression were associated with any of the season-related measures. 

Read the full study here.

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