The disruption of melatonin production in the human organism being caused by variations in the Schumann resonance signal via changes in geomagnetic activity from solar/cosmic perturbation has been put forth as one possible mechanism as to how space weather can impact health. This is not to say that every single case of depression can be correlated to space weather, but mass incidences and changes in the population tend to have a solar/cosmic component.
According to the Mayo Clinic Staff, depression is a "mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest…it affects how you feel, think and behave and can lead to variety of emotional and physical problems."
A list of some of the symptoms of depression, a.k.a. major depressive disorder, includes:
-Anxiety, agitation or restlessness - for example, excessive worrying, pacing, hand-wring or an inability to sit still.
-Unexplained physical problems, such as back pain or headaches.
-Changes in appetite - often reduced appetite and weight loss, but increase cravings for food & weight gain in some.
-Angry outbursts, irritability or frustration, even over small matters.
-Feelings of worthlessness or guilt, fixating on past failures or blaming self for things that aren't your responsibility.
-Trouble thinking, concentrating, making decisions and remembering things.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 10 Adults report depression, describing depression as "costly and debilitating to sufferers. Depression can adversely affect the course and outcome of common chronic conditions, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity. Depression can also result in increased work absenteeism, short-term disability, and decreased productivity."
While there's no mention of possible, homogenous space weather triggers, there is a study/survey which essentially dissects the U.S. population based on age, gender, race and employment status.
In Section 3 of the paper 'Geomagnetic Fields, their Fluctuations and Health Effects,' authors Jonathan P. Ward and Denis L. Henshaw both summarize the findings of several different works of research on the relationship between space weather and Depression, mental disorders:
-"Dimitrova et al (2002). The authors’ investigations suggest that most of the people examined in their study during the autumn and spring equinox, irrespective of their health status could be sensitive to geomagnetic changes, which have a direct influence upon self-confidence and working ability." (Ward & Henshaw)
-"Persinger (1987). The author reports that geomagnetic variations were found to be correlated with enhanced anxiety, sleep disturbances, altered moods and greater incidences of psychiatric admissions." (Ward & Henshaw)
-"Kay (1994). The hypothesis that geomagnetic storms may partly account for the seasonal variation in the incidence of depression by acting as a precipitant of depressive illness is susceptible individuals is supported by a statistically significant 36.2% increase in male hospital admissions with a diagnosis of depressed phase, manic-depressive illness in the second week following such storms compared with geomagnetically quiet control periods." (Ward & Henshaw)
-"Dimitrova et al (2004). Arterial blood pressure (bp) was found to increase significantly with the increase of the geomagnetic activity (GMA) level, and systolic and diastolic bp were found to increase significantly from the day before till the second day after the geomagnetic storm. These effects were present irrespective of sex and medication." (Ward & Henshaw)
In the lecture, 'Depression is a Disease of Civilization: Stephen Ilardi at TEDxEmory,' Dr. Stephen Ilardi, professor of clinical psychology, describes 'Major Depressive Disorder,' with many of the characterizations happening to also match known space weather to geomagnetic activity effects on human health.
Depression if left unchecked can cause brain damage, this is a global disease with muddled causes brought on by a number of factors, but...
(4:26)...there is a common underlying pathway, a primary driver a primary trigger...I call it the brain's 'run-away stress response.' Now we all know the stress response, we think of it probably as the 'fight-or-flight response;' in its most extreme form.
(5:15) Here's the problem, for many Americans, Europeans and people throughout the Western world the stress response goes on for weeks, and months and even years at a time and when it does that it's extremely toxic to the body and to the brain.
(5:53) It also, can actually damage the brain when left unchecked over time, especially in regions like the hippocampus, which is involved in memory consolidation and the frontal cortex. And it also triggers an inflammatory reaction throughout the body and brain; and here's what we've learned about depression: the inflamed brain is a depressed brain.
“Studies show (see, for example, the following papers and references therein: Breus and Rapoport, 2003; Palmer et al., 2006) that during periods of severe geomagnetic disturbances, number of hospitalized patients with nervous diseases significantly increases; cerebral insults, different paroxysmal conditions, nervous disturbance disorders and suicidal attempts are more frequent, and psycho-neurological diseases become aggravated.” (Allahverdiyeva & Babayev 2007)
“It is well known that the most sensitive sections of the human brain, influenced by negative factors of an environment, are hypothalamus (a region in the upper part of the brainstem that acts as a relay to the pituitary gland; it controls body temperature, circadian cycles, sleep, moods, hormonal body processes, hunger, and thirst) and cerebral cortex of the big hemispheres of the human brain (Kopanev and Shakula, 1985).” (Allahverdiyeva & Babayev 2007)
“Observed prevalence of changes in the right cerebral hemisphere proves the importance (‘‘interest’’) of the right hemisphere. According to Pereverzeva (1980), activation of the right hemisphere is accompanied by negative tinge of emotional reactions. Based on this fact, one can assume that during significant disturbances of geomagnetic conditions the negative emotional background of a person is amplified." (Allahverdiyeva & Babayev 2007)
Spring Equinox is on March 20th and there's a nice little accompanying uptick in Solar Activity, which is about to sit on top a whoopee cushion of rising Cosmic Ray Density.
Eyes open, keine Panik - Top Recommendations:
'Forget Survival of the Fittest: the Benefits of Meditation and Yoga'
'Dacher Keltner on the Evolutionary Roots of Compassion'
'First Friday: Survival of the Kindest - An Evening with Dacher Keltner on January 4th, 2013'
Allahverdiyeva, Aysel A. & Babayev, Elchin S. 'Effects of geomagnetic activity variations on the physiological and psychological state of functionally healthy humans: Some results of Azerbaijani studies.' ScienceDirect: Advances in Space Research 40 (2007) 1941-1951. Website:
CDC. 'An Estimated 1 in 10 U.S. Adults Report Depression.' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Website: http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdepression/
Ilardi, Stephen. 'Depression is a disease of civilization: Stephen Ilardi at TEDxEmory.' TEDxTalks - Video Published to YouTube on 23 May 2013: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drv3BP0Fdi8
Mayo Clinic Staff. 'Depression (major depressive disorder) - Definition.' Mayo Clinic: Diseases and Conditions - 21 February 2014. Website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/basics/definition/con-20032977
Ward, J.P. & Henshaw, D.L. 'Geomagnetic Fields, their Fluctuations and Health Effects.' H.H Wills Physics Laboratory, University of Bristol: http://www.electric-fields.bris.ac.uk/geomagneticfields.pdf