The sun is finally starting to show its face, flowers are beginning to pop out of the ground, temperatures are warming and you are feeling—depressed. It may seem odd, but it is actually more common than you would think to suffer from feelings of depression as spring is beginning to bloom.
But, why would nice weather bring about such feelings?
1.) First of all, change. Spring is a time for change. Any change can bring feelings of dread and anxiousness to the surface. Maybe you are dreading pulling out your warmer clothes. Maybe you have started to get comfortable in your routine and you aren’t in a rush to change it up for spring activities. Or, maybe you fear the impending yard work or spring cleaning.
2.) Seasonal allergies. Those flowers might look pretty, but they don’t feel pretty. A variety of irritants fill the air during the spring season. They flood our homes, make going outside difficult, and just leave us feeling crummy. It is hard to be happy when you are suffering from sneezing, watery eyes, a sore throat, or difficulty sleeping in general.
There is also something called cytokines, the chemical messengers of the immune system, that spike when allergens are in the air. These lead to sickness behaviors—mimicking depression systems—a decrease in appetite, sleeping more, reduced sex drive, and loss of interest in activities.
3.) Reverse SAD. Most people think of Seasonal Affective Disorder as a condition that affects our mood during the cold, dark months of winter, thus going away in the spring time. But, that is not always the case. Many people don’t feel depressed during the winter, and rather feel it during the spring. This type of SAD effects one in 10 of those diagnosed with the disorder, and it includes insomnia, irritability, restlessness, poor appetite, and weight loss.
If you are one of those people feeling the negative affects of April showers, and May flowers, there are a few things you can do to lift your spirits.
1.) Prioritize. It can be easy to get overwhelmed at the thought of all the things that need to get done now that spring is here. Those fitness goals you had put on the back burner because it was “too cold” or “too dark” are now staring you in the face as you look into your closet. All the junk you threw into the garage at the beginning of the winter season now needs to be taken care of, and look at those windows—eek. Take a deep breath and make a list. What is most important to you? Remember not everything needs to be done right now.
2.) Eat better. Put all the junk aside that you have been nibbling on during the winter months, when you could cozy up in layers of sweats and blankets, and pull out the vegetables. After all spring is a time for growth and renewal, why not start by cleaning out your fridge. And, research shows eating better helps you feel better.
3.) Get out of the house. Take that antihistamine and go for a walk. The spring breeze and sun can do wonders for your mood, if you let it. Exercise is also a good way to release those feel-good hormones, and help you feel better about fitting into your shorts.
4.) Talk it out. If you are among the one in 10 suffers of reverse SAD then now might be the perfect time to seek out help from a counselor who can provide you with healthy coping mechanisms and help you work through all those unpleasant feelings.
Look on the bright side, this slump won’t last forever. Take it easy on yourself and acknowledge you are not alone in your feelings.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.