Spring is here, and many are looking forward to the warm, sunny weather. It is time to get outside, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy all the greenery. While some may find significant relief soaking up the pleasantries of spring, others may become burdened with despair. This paradox shows that individuals are unique in their mental health experiences.
It is important to learn more about the positive and negative reactions individuals with mental health disorders can have during this time of year.
Getting Relief From Winter-Pattern SAD
For people with winter-pattern seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the onset of the fall and winter seasons can be an emotionally dark time. Winter-pattern SAD is a form of depression that sets in every season.
Changes in the Earth’s rotation around the sun reduce the amount of light that reaches the surface in the Northern Hemisphere. Light is an essential regulator of the circadian rhythm, which encompasses the physical, mental, and biological activities that regularly occur in 24 hours. An individual’s internal clock regulates bodily functions like sleep and hormone production.
In those with this form of SAD, a reduction in sunlight is believed to cause a biochemical imbalance in the brain, reducing serotonin. This can trigger a shift in one’s internal clock, altering mood, behavior, and sleep patterns. When spring rolls around, the Earth is angled towards the sun rather than away like in winter. This can relieve depressive symptoms as more light becomes available for an extended period.
Mental Health Can Decline at the Start of Spring
Ironically, some people feel depressed at the beginning of spring and summer. Changes in sunlight may also be responsible for disorders like spring-pattern SAD, but in a different way. This form of depression may instead be caused by too much sunlight, which reduces melatonin and increases serotonin. This can cause a person to feel agitated and anxious.
Mania & Suicide
Those with bipolar disorder may experience distressing symptoms at the start of spring. Instead of plunging into a sudden period of depression, the individual becomes manic. Mania is the polar opposite of depression. Racing thoughts and impulsive, risky behaviors are common symptoms. Some may even have a reduced need for sleep and an abnormal amount of energy to accomplish tasks. Suicide rates also tend to peak during the spring season.
Although studies suggest “that the sudden increase in the duration and amount of sunlight is a possible cause of these phenomena,” more research is needed to figure out the details.
Allergies & Warmer Temperatures Can Cause Distress
The unfolding of leaves and the blooming of flowers may be a pretty sight to look forward to for those who do not suffer from allergies. Pollen fills the air in the spring, causing itchy, inflamed eyes and sinuses.
Some research shows that a history of seasonal allergies is associated with an increased chance of having mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or eating disorders. Getting allergies under control may be a way to reduce mental health symptoms.
In addition, the warmer temperatures might be just a little too warm depending on where an individual may live. The heat can be stressful and cause one to become irritated. Because mental illness can make it challenging to function under comfortable conditions, the discomfort that allergies and the heat can bring may be too much to handle for some.
Gloomy Feelings Triggered by Change & Nostalgia
Similar to holidays in the winter season, there may be many beautiful memories associated with spring. For example, many people have weddings or other family events because of the fair weather during this time of year. Memories made during spring can be a source of nostalgia that reminds people of good times that have come to pass.
Spring is also associated with a sense of renewal, a time to clean and start fresh. Opportunities for change can be inspiring, but they can also be scary. Change may be the last thing a recovering person wants to think about for those still learning to find stable ground between mental health episodes.
Improve Your Mental Wellbeing in Spring
Mental health experiences do not always align with the familiar perspective of spring being a happy time of year. Individuals with wintertime depression tend to see a reduction in symptoms, while those with symptoms of springtime depression are just getting started. Suicide rates peak during spring and summer, and those with bipolar disorder are prone to manic episodes.
If an individual has a mental health condition that flairs up during spring, reaching out for help should be the first step to recover their wellbeing. Some disorders are challenging to live with and require assistance to get back to health and happiness.
The spring season can affect a person’s mental health in different ways. Depending on the condition, symptoms may fade away or become worse. Finding treatment for a mental health issue, no matter which season they occur is an integral part of maintaining your well-being and living a life worth looking forward to. At Avalon Malibu, we understand the struggles you are going through. We are a California state-licensed residential addiction and mental health treatment center. Located in Malibu, CA, our programs will help you find freedom from depressive and bipolar symptoms. Our approach to treating mental health is comprehensive and personalized to each patient. We offer a long list of traditional and alternative therapies that our patients can choose from to address every dimension of their health and wellness. If the spring season has got you down, please give us a call at (844) 857-5992. We might have the answers you are looking for.