So we joked that everybody waits until fall/winter to get depressed, but it's not a joke -- there is actually a term for it (seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, hilariously). It's basically a cyclical depression that some people experience during the winter months. This is understandable -- the days are short and cold, the nights are long, lonely and freezing, and you hear three straight months of Christmas music.
"Come here. I just want to talk. About killing you."
However, there is a small percentage of people who go through the winter whistling merrily, twirling a cane and spinning a top hat (probably), only to have the bright months of summer hit them like the death of Mufasa. The warm weather and piercingly joyous sunlight actually make them horribly suicidal.
Only 1 percent of Americans reportedly suffer from summer SAD (as opposed to the 5 percent who suffer from winter SAD), but the symptoms are pretty extreme -- one sufferer blacks out all her windows like a drug-dealing Batman and sleeps with frozen bottles of water in her bed, simply because the sunlight and the heat make her abysmally depressed. It isn't a body image thing, either -- people who suffer from summer SAD aren't just walking beanbags who hate going to the beach for fear of being mistaken for a Cloverfield hatchling crawling out of the ocean in board shorts. The disorder affects them at a deep neurological level, keeping most victims indoors for months (even bedridden), experiencing extreme weight loss and paralyzing anxiety.
At least you can watch The Wire in its entirety.
Research shows that cases become more prevalent closer to the equator. Southern states in the U.S. report more summer SAD victims, and in the hottest parts of India (which you may recognize as an entire country situated almost directly above the equator), the condition is actually common -- more people there suffer from summer SAD than winter SAD, possibly because India is a place where winter does not exist.
Scientists aren't really sure why this happens to some people, but they do have some guesses. For one thing, heat does things to the body, like suppressing the thyroid hormone, which results in a severe energy drain that is a telltale symptom of depression and could explain why summer SAD victims stay in bed all day. High temperatures also stimulate a specific hormone called prolactin, which sounds like that foot fungus repellent John Madden sells but totally isn't. Prolactin can block the effects of dopamine, better known as the feel-good juice your body produces in response to pleasurable stimulation. It is essentially the only reason anybody does anything, and if a person's ability to feel the effects of dopamine were blocked (say, by warm weather), he or she would be one sad bastard.
Interestingly, many antidepressants actually lower a person's body temperature, which seems to further indicate some relationship between heat and debilitating misery.
We know what you're thinking -- obviously your diet influences your health, mental and physical. After all, you can't just congeal in a recliner all day long, osmosing french fries and pizza sauce through your Ghostbusters T-shirt and chest folds, and not expect to get a little depressed. So you scoff at the Twinkies and stick to fish (grilled but never fried), congratulating yourself as you picture rainbows and sunshine pouring out of each bite of cod you take.
"I also increase your penis size!"
Well, guess what: Eating fish and other seafood has been linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, as well as a neurological disease called ALS that cripples the brain and spinal cord to the point where the victim can no longer swallow or even breathe. Cases are most prevalent around large bodies of water, or in areas where the diet consists primarily of things caught in large bodies of water. This is because of the presence of a toxin called BMAA, which is produced by cyanobacteria, a type of algae that lives in lakes and oceans and was in no way represented by Sebastian the crab's delightful musical number.
And no, this doesn't mean that you should sprint to the nearest KFC with an armload of ice cream and chocolate sauce and make a Famous Bowl sundae. If you fill yourself with fatty foods and sweets, you're essentially loading your body with insulin, to the point that your brain will no longer respond to it. And when your brain can't respond to insulin, it can't make new memories, leaving you with the same symptoms as dementia. As soon as you get home from the Colonel's grease-bucketed shame dispensary, you'll forget that you were just there, and you'll hop right back into your Aspire and haul yourself down the road for another five-piece meal in an endless cycle, like a fat Memento.
"Goddamn movie still makes no sense."
Diets high in sugar and fat can also lead to depression and schizophrenia, because science isn't doing its job unless it is spoiling everything that has ever made you happy. Sugar suppresses a vital growth hormone in the brain called BDNF, which affects memory (did we mention that already?). Low BDNF levels are characteristic of schizophrenics and people suffering from depression, which, as fate would decree, is compounded by a low intake of fish and seafood.
So basically, you can't eat a damned thing without ruining your brain.
"Damned if you don't mind if I do."
For more ways you're killing yourself, check out The 5 Strangest Ways Your Mind Can Get Your Body Sick and 8 Health Foods That Are Bad For Your Health.
If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 5 Extremely Stupid Things People Did to Get Rid of Pests.
And stop by LinkSTORM because today is Friday and your brain needs a day off.
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