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Cloudy Days Slow Mental Abilities in Depressed Individuals

Cloudy Days Slow Mental Abilities in Depressed IndividualsA new research effort links a lack of sunlight with reduced cognitive function among depressed individuals.

Researchers used weather data from NASA satellites to measure sunlight exposure across the United States and linked this information to the prevalence of cognitive impairment in depressed people.

The report is found in the BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health.

Shia Kent, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, led a team of U.S. researchers who used cross-sectional data from 14,474 people in the NIH-NINDS-funded REGARDS study, a longitudinal study investigating stroke incidence and risk factors, to study associations between depression, cognitive function and sunlight.

He said, “We found that among participants with depression, low exposure to sunlight was associated with a significantly higher predicted probability of cognitive impairment. This relationship remained significant after adjustment for season.

‚ÄúThis new finding that weather may not only affect mood, but also cognition, has significant implications for the treatment of depression, particularly seasonal affective disorder.”

Kent and his colleagues speculate that the physiological mechanisms that give rise to seasonal depression may also be involved in sunlight’s effect on cognitive function in the context of depressive symptoms.

Cognitive function was assessed by measurement of short-term recall and temporal orientation. As well as regulating the hormones serotonin and melatonin, light has been shown to also affect brain blood flow, which has in turn been linked with cognitive functions.

The researchers write, “Discovering the environment’s impact on cognitive functioning within the context of seasonal disorders may lead not only to better understanding of the disorders, but also to the development of targeted interventions to enhance everyday functioning and quality of life.”

Source: BioMed Central

Cloudy Days Slow Mental Abilities in Depressed Individuals

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Cloudy Days Slow Mental Abilities in Depressed Individuals. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2009/07/29/cloudy-days-slow-mental-abilities-in-depressed-individuals/7413.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.