November 04, 2016
1 min read

Daylight saving time may increase depression rates

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Recent findings suggest that the transition from summer time to standard time may increase incidence of depression.

“We are relatively certain that it is the transition from daylight saving time to standard time that causes the increase in the number of depression diagnoses and not, for example, the change in the length of the day or bad weather. In fact, we take these phenomena into account in our analyses,” study researcher Søren D. Østergaard, MD, PhD, of Aarhus University, Denmark, said in a press release.

Soren Ostergaard, PhD
Søren D. Østergaard

To assess effects of daylight saving time transitions on incidence of unipolar depression, researchers conducted a time series intervention analysis of nationwide data from the Danish Psychiatric Central Research Register from 1995 to 2012.

Overall, there were 185,419 hospital contacts for unipolar depression.

The transition from standard time to summer time was associated with an 11% increase (95% CI, 7-15) in the incidence rate for unipolar depressive episodes.

The transition from summer time to standard time was not associated with a parallel change in the incidence rate for unipolar depression episodes.

“Our results should give rise to increased awareness of depression in the weeks following the transition to standard time. This is especially true for people with a tendency towards depression — as well as their relatives. Furthermore, the health care professionals who diagnose and treat depression should also take our results into consideration,” Østergaard said in the release. – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Østergaard reports receiving grant support from the Lundbeck Foundation. Please see the study for a full list of relevant financial disclosures.