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Have you got the winter blues?

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Published
9 June 2006
As the days become shorter and temperatures start to fall, three Southern Cross University students will be investigating the effects of winter on people's mood.

Kate Parker, Kim Rowe and Rebecca Finlayson, who are completing a Bachelor of Psychology (Honours), will be conducting separate research projects into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a pattern of mood change associated with seasons.

They are calling for volunteers from the Coffs Harbour region to take part in the study.

SAD is a common disorder in the Northern Hemisphere in winter, but has also been documented in Australia. The effects can range from mild changes in behaviour, such as increased carbohydrate consumption and sleeping longer, to mania.

The three studies will measure the effects of temperature, light and sound on mood in an experimental environment.

Dr Allen Lansdowne, who is supervising the studies, said while Seasonal Affective Disorder was widely recognised, no direct causal link to certain environmental stimuli had been found.

"With the onset of winter many people start to experience changes in mood, feel less motivated or even lethargic," Dr Lansdowne said.

"As yet we still do not understand the mechanisms by which some people change with the seasons.

"Ultimately we are interested in how all these environmental variables interact and we also interested in how things such as light, temperature and sound impact on people's moods and other behaviours."

The students are looking for volunteers who experience changes in their behaviour during winter to take part in the study.

Anyone who would like to participate in these research projects relating to seasonal changes should email seasons.exp@scu.edu.au or contact Dr Lansdowne on 66593347.

Media contact: Brigid Veale, SCU Communications Manager, 02 66593006 or 0439 680 748.


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