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Birth Season tied to risk of Mood Disorders in Later Life

Update Date: Oct 18, 2014 06:00 PM EDT

Risk of developing mood disorders is linked to one's birth month, a new study reported. According to a research team headed by Xenia Gonda, the time of year when people are born can increase their risk of experiencing from certain kinds of affective temperaments, which can lead to affective (mood) disorders.

"Biochemical studies have shown that the season in which you are born has an influence on certain monoamine neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, which is detectable even in adult life. This led us to believe that birth season may have a longer-lasting effect. Our work looked at over 400 subjects and matched their birth season to personality types in later life. Basically, it seems that when you are born may increase or decrease your chance of developing certain mood disorders," Gonda said according to the press release. "We can't yet say anything about the mechanisms involved. What we are now looking at is to see if there are genetic markers which are related to season of birth and mood disorder".

Overall, the researchers found that people born in the summertime were more likely than people born during the winter to have cyclothymic temperament, which is characterized by rapid and common mood swings going from sad to cheerful and back. People born in the spring and summer were more likely to have hyperthymic temperament, which is a tendency to be very positive.

People born in the winter were less likely to have an irritable temperament in comparison to people born during other times of the year. People born during autumn had a lower tendency to have depressive temperament than people born in the winter.

"Seasons affect our mood and behavior. Even the season at our birth may influence our subsequent risk for developing certain medical conditions, including some mental disorders. What's new from this group of researchers is the influence of season at birth and temperament," Professor Eduard Vieta from Barcelona commented.

Vieta added, "Temperaments are not disorders but biologically-driven behavioral and emotional trends. Although both genetic and environmental factors are involved in one's temperament, now we know that the season at birth plays a role too. And the finding of "high mood" tendency (hyperthymic temperament) for those born in summer is quite intriguing."

The study's findings were presented at the European College of CNP Congress in Berlin.

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