We mostly think of seasonal depression as being the “winter blues,” but believe it or not, spring also marks the onset of depression symptoms in some people. With the increase of sunlight in this week’s change of seasons to spring, you may start to notice some symptoms of spring depression.
If you are struck with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the transition to springtime can be painful. You may have gotten used to staying indoors, eating carbohydrate-heavy food, or sleeping in. With more activities going on in the longer days, you might find it hard to break out of your old pattern. You might resist the onset of spring by refusing to put away winter clothes, procrastinating on your spring cleaning, or by continuing a high-calorie diet without exercising.
Who Gets Seasonal Affective Disorder?
About 5 percent of the population will develop a serious case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, while 10 percent to 20 percent have mild symptoms of this disorder. Seventy-five percent of all cases are women.
While people living in more northern climates may experience more dramatic changes in the level of sunlight between winter and spring, anyone can experience springtime depression, for a variety of reasons.
Comparison of Depression Symptoms
The symptoms of depression that usually occur in the spring are more like mania or hypomania. Let’s see how they compare to the classic winter blues.
People who experience the winter blues typically have the following depression symptoms:
◦Anxiety and worry
◦Loss of energy, lethargy, and oversleeping
◦Craving for unhealthy foods
◦Loss of interest in activities they previously enjoyed
People who experience springtime depression, on the other hand, experience the following symptoms:
◦Anxiety and excitement
◦Trouble falling asleep and insomnia
◦Over-commitment to social engagements
◦Weight loss and loss of appetite
The key symptom in springtime depression is agitation. In fact, some psychologists refer to it more as a mania or hypomania, like a reverse case of the winter blues.
You can discuss with your doctor or therapist whether or not your symptoms of springtime depression are just you feeling better after a depressed winter, or whether a new kind of depression or mania is actually taking root.
Managing Your Spring Depression Symptoms
You can manage spring depression in some of the same ways as your winter depression, but remember that you are trying to keep yourself relaxed, whereas in winter you were trying to keep your energy up.
Here are some helpful tips for managing springtime depression:
◦Limit or eliminate caffeine and cigarettes.
◦Set a bedtime and stick to it. This may include having a bedtime ritual to help gear your mind and body up for sleep.
◦If you take medication, have your doctor monitor you closely.
◦Enjoy being outside and getting exercise, but not too close to bedtime.
◦Watch your diet and make sure you are getting a balanced amount of lean protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, vitamins, and minerals.
◦Join a yoga or meditation class in order to calm your mind.