Many of us have heard about seasonal affective disorder and attribute it to the blustery, dark days of winter. It’s easy to understand why people may feel down during winter months, but did you know that springtime can have the same effect? Springtime depression is called reverse seasonal affective disorder and it’s good to be aware of this mental health struggle.
Spring is usually associated with new birth and a reawakening of earth’s beauty. So, why would depression fall on someone when all this positivity is radiating around them?
Can’t I sleep for just a little longer
Doctors are beginning to think there are a few different triggers for springtime depression, one of them being the push to come out from underneath our pile of winter blankets. Some people genuinely don’t feel ready to leave their cozy winter nest behind, especially if they have a sensitive nervous system or suffer from anxiety and/or depressive disorders. Because everyone around them is feeling the excited spring energy, a depressed person may feel pushed to follow suit, causing shame and guilt to surface on top of feelings of depression. In short, some people need a little more time to get used to the sunlight again.
But sunlight causes happiness, right?
This brings us to another possible trigger: more daylight. Although it may seem counterintuitive, the change from cold and dark to warmth and light may cause hormonal shifts that can create mood swings or feelings of depression. The circadian rhythm—that wise biological clock that tells us when to sleep, eat, and perform other daily functions—can get overwhelmed by the changing of seasons. Some people simply need more time to adjust to the changes in weather, increasing amounts of daylight, and higher activity levels that come with springtime.
Could my runny nose be a source of depression?
Allergies can really bum you out. Environmental toxins and allergens come out in full force once the snow begins to melt and the springtime sun makes its appearance. Some people might not realize they’re suffering from seasonal allergies because, instead of a runny nose and itchy eyes, they get a whopping dose of inflammation in the brain, causing mood swings and depression. If you feel that your mood swings or other indications of springtime depression may be due to allergies, talk to your physician.
So, how do you avoid springtime seasonal depression?
There are a few things you can do at home to make sure your seasonal depression doesn’t get the best of you.
- Exercise. Moving your body every day is a great way to keep your endorphins, or feel-good chemicals, flowing. It’s also a good way to get back in shape and increase your energy level.
- Spring cleaning. Cleaning away the winter cobwebs and stale air is another way to ensure that your mood follows suit. Open some windows, dust those winter-neglected areas, and go through your closet and get rid of clothing you no longer wear.
- Get outside. Now that the snow has melted, assuming you have your allergies under control, head on outside to enjoy a bit of sunlight and fresh air. Even if you want to crawl back into bed or hide under your winter blankets for a little longer, you can start small; take a short walk every other day until your body adjusts to the new season.
- Allow time for rest. Our culture has adopted the idea of more time for rest during winter, which is needed, but we tend to forget that this is an important concept all year round. This spring, make plenty of time to rest, even if that means just kicking up your feet on your back porch and watching the flowers grow and the bees starting to do their thing.
Springtime depression can be just as severe as the winter blues. If you feel depressed and experience symptoms such as lethargy, loss of interest, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, loss of concentration, poor appetite or thoughts of suicide, contact a doctor. Although you may just need a bit of extra time to get accustomed to a new season, you could also be in need of professional assistance. Make your mental health a priority.