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  1. #1
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    Spring Depression and Anxiety

    Why Spring Depression and Anxiety?
    By Therese Borchard
    May 8, 2013

    I?ve always found it curious that more suicides happen in the spring than in any other season. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Center for Health Statistics, suicide rates are lowest in the winter months and highest in the springtime.

    What?s so bad about April and May? The sun is out, winter coats have disappeared, people start throwing Frisbees, even our dogs are strutting down the streets with wide grins. Why the anxiety and depression?

    1. The Shoulds
    The pressure to be happy ? it is a fast track to the Black Hole. You think since colleagues are whistling as they hold the door for you at work that you should whistle as well. Or at least WANT to whistle. It?s the comparison thing. It happens to me every year. The voices in my head sound like this: ?Be happy. Be happy!!!! Everyone is happy. You?re wearing sandals! Bye bye black wool! Colors, look at that! Pastel blouses! Your yard has a freakin tulip. This is the life. BE HAPPY.?

    I classify these symptoms under the ?Should? disease, a file in the gray matter of my brain that holds a LOT of material.

    2. Change
    For highly sensitive people?and most people who struggle with chronic depression and anxiety are highly sensitive?any kind of change will trigger panic. Our bodies detest any kind of alteration in life style. If a snowstorm that has the kids home for a week is dependable and static and constant, then it actually feels better than a beautiful spring day, because our sensory system isn?t uttering an SOS to the limbic system, our emotional center. Psychologist Elaine Aron explains in her book, The Highly Sensitive Person, that a subtle adjustment like a shift in seasons messes with the nervous system and sends the highly sensitive person into a state of overarousal, which unfortunately has nothing to do with sex drive.

    The change in us is as physical as it is mental. Just as the lack of sunlight may alter brain levels of certain mood-controlling chemicals ? such as the hormone melatonin ? in January and February, the same moody chemicals and their messengers get confused when the light comes out in the spring. Although the light is preferable to darkness, change still feels bad.

    3. Allergies
    Emerging research has identified a link between allergies and depression. At least people who suffer from allergies seem to be at a higher risk for of depression. That makes sense. The headaches, sleeplessness, fatigue associated with allergies are all are symptoms of depression, as well. Anahad O?Connor of the New York Times did the homework:


    Several large studies have found that the risk of depression in people with severe allergies is about twice that of those without allergies. In 2008, researchers at the University of Maryland reported that this link may help explain a widely established ? but poorly understood ? increase in suicides during the spring every year. Analyzing medical records, the authors found that in some patients, changes in allergy symptoms during low- and high-pollen seasons corresponded to changes in their depression and anxiety scores.

    A Finnish population study in 2003 found a link between allergies and depression; however, women were much more likely to be affected. In 2000, a study of twins in Finland also showed a shared risk for depression and allergies, a result of genetic influences, the authors wrote.

    So there you have it! Three theories on why I?m not as happy as whistlers dressed in pastels and the Frisbee-throwers during the months of April and May, and why I have to work harder at sanity during the springtime.

    Originally published on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

  2. #2
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    Re: Spring Depression and Anxiety

    Comments:

    1. For those of us in locations where Daylight Saving Time is used, the clocks moving ahead will also add to stress, fatigue, and general coping ability.

    2. From my observations, individuals with bipolar disorder tend to be especially sensitive to seasonal changes, for reasons that aren't entirely clear.

    3. Individuals who struggle with body image or Body Dysmorphic Disorder may also find that the change to warmer weather, warm weather clothing styles, and beach ware may intensify their distress.

  3. #3
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    Re: Spring Depression and Anxiety

    I can relate to this big time: the expectation that one must be cheerful because it's sunny and warm; the guilt and regret we feel when we aren't out enjoying the weather like everyone else seems to be doing; the comparisons with others who seem to just love every moment and the busyness of it all. In the winter when it's gloomy, people are inside or away, expectations are lower and it's OK to read a book or just go for a walk, nothing that exciting but nice and peaceful. Everything amps up in the spring. I think it's important to regard any change of season as just that - a natural change. When we start adding judgements to what is observed we get into trouble. Good article.

  4. #4
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    Re: Spring Depression and Anxiety

    A lot of this sounds familiar.

    The changes in seasons have caused me to become ill lately - I felt very tired and disoriented in the transition from summer to fall in 2012 because the weather changed so abruptly. And now I've been knocked down again with a migraine and cold because we barely had any real spring weather here and things jumped right into summer conditions. I don't have any allergies but my sinuses are very sensitive, so maybe that's why changes in weather mess with me...

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