Why is it that with every new study that comes out, I have to learn about one more enjoyable thing that’s actually bad for me? This time, things are looking pretty bleak, as the latest findings threaten to take away the three things in my life that bring me the most happiness: doughnuts, coffee and hot weather. And I know for a fact that I’m not alone in this. But according to some leading British experts on mood disorders, some of our favorite things could actually be causing depression.
Let’s start with hot weather. Apparently there’s such a thing as a summer form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), where depression is triggered by too much sun. As someone who goes into hibernation mode all winter long, just waiting for June weather, I definitely know I’m not one of the tens of thousand who suffer from summer SAD.
Lead researcher Dr Lisa Page offered a number of explanations, the most interesting of which explains, “People tend to drink more alcohol in summer not only does it have a depressive effect, it also disinhibits us, so we are more likely to act impulsively. Hot weather also disturbs sleep and this could possibly tip someone over the edge.”
It may be considered a comfort food, but according to the British Dietetic Association, doughnuts are anything but comforting, for both our weight and mental health. Sugary snacks like doughnuts give us a temporary high because it spikes dopamine levels, but once those levels begin to fall, sadness sets in. Researcher Helen Bond explains, “We tend to crave sugary and fatty foods for a quick mood fix, but the sugar crash that follows could make you feel worse.”
There’s a little good news here you don’t have to give up coffee altogether. The key is to cut back and refrain from drinking it after a certain time. Drinking coffee throughout the day makes it harder to get a good night’s sleep when the sun finally goes down, and lack of sleep can lead to depression. But it’s like an endless cycle, Dr William Shanahan, executive medical director at Capio Nightingale, explains: “Im always amazed by the number of people I see who feel depressed because of sleep problems, yet who drink endless cups of tea and coffee, even late into the evening.”