How does the weather affect our mood?
Meteorological conditions can alter our state of mind and behavior, says top Catalan psychiatrist
How do different weather conditions affect our mood and behavior? Dr Antoni Bulbena has the answer. The head of psychiatric teaching at Barcelona's Hospital del Mar says, for example, that cases of panic attacks go down when it rains, while cases of aggressiveness go up when the weather is hot.
Bulbena, who is also the head of psychiatry at Barcelona's UAB university says his studies show that while different weather conditions affect our mood differently, not everyone is affected in the same way. "It is important to study this influence so as to have tools to anticipate it among patients and so avoid the negative effects," he says.
In windy weather, for example, Bulbena says that the effect on many people is to cause a rise in anxiety, while when it is raining many people get a liberated feeling. Meanwhile, in general, lightning generates fear or mild irritation in others.
"It is important to study this influence so as to have tools to anticipate it among patients and so avoid the negative effects"
Antoni Bulbena · Barcelona's Hospital del Mar researcher
After Hospital del Mar's psychiatry service noticed that they received many more calls on some days rather than others, they decided to investigate, and found that there was a strong correlation between the number of people calling and the weather conditions.
Fall, a busy time for psychiatrists
That led to a study, which Bulbena's team published in the 'International Journal of Biometeorology' in 2005, which came to such conclusions as cases of panic attacks go up on windy days, but go down when it rains. That makes panic attacks more common in the fall months, one of the busiest times of the year for psychiatrists.
Wars more frenquently declared when warm
Referring to the findings that show people are more aggressive in hot weather, Bulbena points out that wars in the 20th century were more frequently declared when the weather was unseasonably warm (and in certain places during periods of devastating rainfall).
As a result, Bulbena warns that climate change brings the "risk of modifying human conduct, making it more aggressive" and he regretted that this is not taken into consideration during summits discussing how to respond to global warming. "It seems like a trivial matter, but it isn't… It should also be studied," he says.