Are we really sensitive to the weather?
Many of us feel that inclement weather has a negative impact on our health and morale, even though we are in good shape on sunny days. A sentiment that science cannot always demonstrate.
The influence of climate on the human body is the subject of debate within the medical community. "The study of the effects of the climate on living things is a relatively recent science," says bioclimatologist Jean-Claude Cohen, director of the Météo-France health and meteorology service.
According to two studies in Canada and Germany, migraine headaches, exhaustion, joint pain, irritability, depression, and dizziness can be caused by changes in humidity, temperature, and air pressure. However, not everyone is sensitive to it in the same way; those over 60 are the most likely to complain. Thus, the manifestation of symptoms related to the climate depends on the terrain of each one. "These are often people who have a fragile adrenal gland or thyroid," observes GP Dr Michèle Guyader.
Rain, cold, clouds "The weather itself does not cause disease, but it is the last straw," adds Jean-Claude Cohen.
Meteosensitivity: Beliefs Tested by Science
Despite these observations, most studies conclude that variations in climate have little or no effect on our well-being. "Scientific research on this topic does not show a significant correlation between weather and mood or rheumatism," says Johanna Rozenblum, a clinical psychologist.
According to the Dutch researchers, this relationship is difficult to prove because climate affects the mood of only a subset of the population, with an intensity that varies from one individual to another, making general conclusions difficult.
Another parameter comes into play. "This is a self-fulfilling belief that consists of thinking:" If I am sad when it rains it is because there is necessarily a link ", and that comes to skew our perception, develops the psychologist. Memorizes better the events that validate our stereotypical thoughts: we remember more than We were doing very well when the weather was good, or we were at the foot of our bed on a rainy Sunday, making the connection with the weather and completely forgetting the positive or negative personal context, which influences our well-being. "
For our morale the important thing is to expose ourselves to the light
"Actually, more than the weather, it is the absence of light that has a negative impact on our body," continues Johanna Rozenblum. In fact, it is light that regulates our biological and seasonal clocks. Using information collected by the retina, such as the duration and intensity of sunlight, the hypothalamus in the brain informs the body that it must adapt to new weather conditions.
"This adaptation will be more difficult for people with weather sensitivity, who often have a dysfunction of the hormonal system," says Dr. Guyader. Their bodies will not secrete enough serotonin, the happiness hormone, to adapt to the changes of the season. "And your metabolism will suffer," she adds.
Serotonin also plays a crucial role in the bodys thermoregulation, eating habits, sleep, pain, anxiety, or motor control. Sadness, mood swings, insomnia, loss of energy, weight gain, decreased libido. Seasonal affective disorder affects, according to studies, from 0.4 to 10% of the population.