The psychology of creativity is a field that has less research than other areas of psychology because it is fairly new. Whenever I decide to start a new article, I like to begin by looking at the research that already exists within the field of psychology and creativity. In this case we are researching, creative people and seasonal affective disorder, otherwise known as SAD.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Background on seasonal affective disorder. This is a diagnosis that exists in the DSM (diagnostic and statistical manual) index of all the mental health disorders as identified by the American psychological association. Seasonal affective disorder, generally indicates mood and behavior changing with the seasons. Specifically, when we talk about SAD, we tend to mean the depression of mood and behavior that occurs during the winter season. When I began looking into the psychology of creativity, creative people, and SAD, it was with the question of how creative people were impacted by SAD as compared to the general population. I wanted to know what research there is on the subject.
Research About Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
What I found was a research article published in 2020 by Wim H. Winthorst, Elisabeth H. Bos, Annelieke M. Roest and Peter de Jonge. This project was done as an Internet-based crowdsourcing project on the Dutch general population with a sample size of over 5000 people. What the study was looking for was how mood and behavior change from season to season, including summer, spring, winter, and fall. Specifically, this study was also interested in the character trait of neuroticism, and how this moderated any behavior or mood changes of participants. The main finding of the study was that there was no significant changes found amongst participants mood and behavior between seasons. In other words, the study found no significant existence of seasonal affect disorder amongst the participants in their study. However, the study did find a significant change in mood and behavior between the seasons, amongst participants, who tested highly with the trait of neuroticism.
Neuroticism and Creative Personalities
There is a reason that this stood out to me. Not the least of which that this study is discrediting a major diagnosis frequently used in the DSM, but also that the study attributes the existence of this diagnosis to existing only well let's say, mainly, if not only, amongst those who also exhibit the character trait of neuroticism. Neuroticism is significant to me because this is a personality trait that those with creative personalities also score highly on increase in personality tests. If you are interested in specifically what the character trait of neuroticism means, before, jumping to conclusions, or worrying, there is more information on this blog, and on the create well minute cast YouTube channel about the significance of the character trait of neuroticism.
Creative People Impacted by SAD
Set aside, there are some interesting conjectures that I am making from this study. First, it seems that my original question, that creative people, or if creative people are significantly impacted by seasonal affective disorder is true, and, in fact, creative people may be the only, according to the study, people impacted by seasonal affective disorder. This, leads me to conjecture number two: that, perhaps, if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, this could be an indicator of creative personality traits in reverse.
Conclusions, an a Call to the Creative Community
I realize I am reading a research done by someone else, two years ago and making a possible conclusions from their studies conclusions. However, to me, they are very compelling. I am interested in hearing the thoughts of the creative community, educators, researchers, and others in the field, and what your thoughts and experiences are on the matter.
Interested in More Psychology for Creative People?
If you are a creative person, are interested in the psychology of creativity, have questions about either of these, or would like to have a free consultation to talk more about anything that you have read on this website and/or in this article, I would love to talk to you. We can even discuss concierge counseling services as an option. Here are some steps you can take from this article to learn more:
1) Book a Free Consultation. All new clients to Creatively, LLC are entitled to a 15 min, free consultation to sit with me and discuss your needs, services available, and we can problem solve and hand-pick best next steps to help you succeed.
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More Articles like the Psychology of Creativity, Creative People and SAD:
Psychology of Creativity During the Holidays, Tools for Creative People: Spoon Theory, Grants for Artists, Creative People and Abandonment, Intense Pressure for Creative People, Creative People and the Urge to Shop, Creative People Who Don't Know Who They Are, Concierge Counseling for Creative People, Creative People with Headaches and Stomach Aches,
Seasonality of mood and affect in a large general population sample
From: PLoS ONE (Vol. 15, Issue 9) Peer-Reviewed
Authors: Wim H. Winthorst, Elisabeth H. Bos, Annelieke M. Roest and Peter de Jonge
Date: Sept. 14, 2020
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is a Creativity Coach, Creativity Counselor and Professional Artist in Sykesville, Maryland. She provides Online Creativity Counseling in Maryland and Virginia, and Online Creativity Coaching throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.