Mood and behaviour problems associated with seasonal changes in Britain and Ireland

Christopher McConville, M McQuaid, A McCartney, W Gilmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Research from across the world has shown that rates of seasonal mood disturbances may vary according to such factors as geographical location, age and gender, Little is known of the nature of these problems within representative community samples in UK and Ireland. Aims: In two studies we examined the extent to which winter disrupts mood and behaviour among random samples of British and Irish adults. Methods: In the first study, 533 adults randomly chosen from electoral data from four towns spread across 50-58degreesN completed the Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ). In the second study, 498 adults from two towns in Northern Ireland (54degreesN) completed the SPAQ. Results: Although the combined response rate across the two studies was low (20.5%), the prevalence rates were similar to several other western European sites. The rate of SAD and S-SAD averaged across the six centres as determined from strict SPAQ criteria, was 6.7% and 10.5% respectively. There was some variability in rates from town to town, with one Northern Irish town presenting rates more associated with areas at much lower latitudes, although most differences between towns were not significant. As in most other studies, females of reproductive age tended to supply the higher number of incidences. Conclusion: This report from community samples across six sites confirms earlier suggestions that rates of seasonal disturbance in mood and behaviour deserve serious consideration by mental health practitioners throughout the region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-114
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Jun 2002


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