In like a lion and out like a lamb! That’s the saying, right?
March is supposed to be the glorious transition from the dark, cold winter to a sunny spring. It is supposed to be synonymous with joy and hope. In fact, many people look forward to spring with the expectation of it bringing happiness – and with that the resolution of their depressed mood.
Well, it turns out all those April showers bring more than flowers. Spring is also responsible for bringing an abundance of mental health symptoms! Over the last several years researchers have been exploring the connection between spring and the “springing up” of depressed mood, mania, and anxiety. It appears there are two primary culprits of this unfortunate correlation.
Or less dramatically, allergies. Allergies often leave sufferers feeling miserable. Many of you are familiar with mother nature’s connection to congestion, runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. Lesser known, however, is the clear connection between pollen count and depression.
This connection is believed to be related to our immune system’s chemical messengers known as cytokines. Cytokines are released when allergies attack and are responsible for inflammation. Studies have demonstrated that high levels of cytokines are linked to fatigue, appetite changes, and social/environmental isolation – strikingly like symptoms of depression.
Then, if that weren’t enough, illness interferes with our sleep schedule which further contributes to irritability and depressed mood.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
When most people think of Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) they envision the depression that often accompanies winter months. Surprisingly, SAD is much more complex and not limited to the winter. Many SAD suffers (1 in 10) will feel better in the winter months and find their symptoms returning as the warm weather is reintroduced. This occurrence is often referred to as reverse SAD. Common symptoms of reverse SAD are difficulty sleeping, irritability, poor appetite and restlessness.
Additionally, as many people start to shed their seasonal moodiness others may continue to feel trapped in their sadness. Comparisons of self to others who exude happiness as the seasons change can worsen depression in those who do not find relief.
Whatever the reason may be, don’t be surprised if you are noticing an increase in mental health symptoms as the weather turns nice. Please remember you are not alone and help is readily available!