New research out of the University of Georgia is revealing an unlikely culprit for your bad mental health days: the weather. The study found that comfortable temperature ranges of 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit were ideal for mental health, while hotter weather caused problems, as reported in The Conversation.
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This effect was amplified if the hotter weather lasted for more than 10 consecutive days. On the bright side, a single cool day could have an immediate positive impact on the mood.
An economic impact
The research also took into account the economic impact of weather.
"We also wanted to know the economic cost of increasing temperatures in terms of potential changes in mental health. Our estimate: The average American would be willing to pay between US$2.60 and $4.60 to avoid an additional very hot day (over 80°F) in the past month in order to maintain current mental health status," wrote Susana Ferreira and Travis Smith of the University of Georgia.
The study followed over 3 million Americans between 1993 and 2010. The data was compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention via phone surveys. It looked at day-to-day fluctuations of weather and self-reported mental health. The researchers then employed nonmarket valuation methods to estimate how much Americans would be willing to pay to avoid hotter days.
Extending the study
Now, the researchers want to extend their study to also take into account individual adaptation actions, such as air conditioning, and community-level factors, such as social cohesion. They also want to organize their findings according to demographic and socioeconomic groups. They hope their work could serve to target policies in cost-effective ways.
In the meantime, the study could help people take their bad mental heath days less seriously. Having an off day? It could be just the weather.