Women are more like to experience mental illness during the winter months than men, according to a new report in the BBC today.
The research, published by the University of Glasgow, suggests that the cold and dark days of winter can trigger “hopelessness and depression”.
It is officially known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and is experienced by around five per cent of the population.
Other symptoms include worthlessness, low energy, fatigue, and a lack of interest in usually enjoyable activities.
According to the report, an analysis of more than 150,000 adults suggests that women are more vulnerable to SAD than men.
The results appear to be independent of various social and lifestyle factors, it added.
The scientists suggest that the increased frequency of SAD cases in women could be attributed to the temperate and gender-specific biological mechanisms.
Daniel Smith, Professor of Psychiatry, said: “This very large, population-based study provides evidence of seasonal variations in depressive symptoms which appear to be more pronounced in women than in men.
“We don’t yet fully understand why this should be the case, but it was interesting that the changes were independent of social and lifestyle factors, perhaps suggesting a sex-specific biological mechanism.
“Clearly, this is a complex but important area which requires further study.
“Clinicians should be aware of these population-level sex differences in seasonal mood variation, to aid the recognition and treatment of depressive symptoms across the calendar year.”