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Seasonal variation in antidepressant prescriptions, environmental light and web queries for seasonal affective disorder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-484
Number of pages4
JournalBritish Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number2
Early online date29 Mar 2019
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Jan 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Aug 2019


The state of an individual's mental health depends on many factors. Determination of the importance of any particular factor within a population needs access to unbiased data. We used publicly available data-sets to investigate, at a population level, how surrogates of mental health covary with light exposure. We found strong seasonal patterns of antidepressant prescriptions, which show stronger correlations with day length than levels of solar energy. Levels of depression in a population can therefore be determined by proxy indicators such as web query logs. Furthermore, these proxies for depression correlate with day length rather than solar energy. Declaration of interest None.

    Research areas

  • day length, Seasonal affective disorder, web queries



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