Spring Mental Health | Teen Ink

Spring Mental Health

June 13, 2022
By BrainwaveTeenPsychology SILVER, New York City, New York
BrainwaveTeenPsychology SILVER, New York City, New York
6 articles 0 photos 0 comments

As the temperatures get warmer, the sun starts to come out, and the flowers begin to bloom, have you ever felt unhappy or an odd amount of stress? If so, you are not alone. According to the CDC, depression and unhappiness are at an all-time peak at the arrival of springtime. Ironic, yet very common.

An unstable mental health state and an increased anxiety level can often be a result of the changing seasons. Studies have shown that the change from drastic weather temperatures to another can influence your body’s serotonin. This is commonly known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. Individuals who are diagnosed with this disorder feel a type of depression that is related to seasonal changes. This is very different from feelings of sadness or lower moods which is very common for a lot of individuals. Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include fatigue, depression, and social withdrawal. These attributes tend to last about 4 to 5 months per year. Although scientists have not yet determined the root cause of SAD, most attribute it to the decreased sunlight and shorter days that exist during autumn and winter.

However, SAD is not only evident when the temperatures drop and it becomes colder. In fact, according to WellRx, an online pharmacy operated by several professionals, 10% of the SAD cases occur during the spring and summer months. Although it may seem surprising since this time period is usually associated with nature and growth, scientists have concluded that springtime consists of the highest rates of suicides, depression, and anxiety. One theory stipulates that increased sunlight can affect an individual’s circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes during a 24-hour cycle. Researchers believe that the change in our circadian rhythm, because of the time change that occurs during springtime, ultimately impacts our mood and mental health.

Emotional Causes:

Another theory suggests that many people may feel unstable during this time as there is a lot of change occurring. In some cases, individuals may be transitioning into a different type of daily routine which causes feelings of instability and chaos. The warmer weather may not be everybody’s calming friend that some individuals wish for! During the springtime, more intense feelings of anxiety are triggered because of the milestones occurring. This is usually the season for weddings, graduations, and tremendous social events. While some people are excited about these types of events, there are also cases in which people feel nostalgic about these memories and events which can potentially stimulate depressing thoughts. Following this idea, there are many spring festivals such as Holi, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, etc. According to Annunziato, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology, spring holidays and festivities make the outdoors more exciting and appealing, leading to frequent outdoor activities. For people who prefer staying inside in a comfortable environment, there is a heightened pressure that generates intense social anxiety. Don’t be quick to assume that people embrace this season due to vacation time. Spring ushers a social obligation to be enthusiastic and joyful due to popular culture and literature. However, for some people who aren’t able to share the same excitement, they may feel emotionally alienated from friends and therefore experience envy when comparing the different spring lifestyles.

Physiological Causes:

Although the emotional factor is major, sometimes the poor mental health states can also be attributed to physiological change. Springtime is the season when our immune systems are working harder in order to fight allergies, viruses, and colds. The transition from being active to being isolated at home in order to fight any sickness can lead to depression and drastic mood changes. It is also theorized that allergens trigger anxiety-producing chemicals. For individuals who are already dealing with anxiety on a regular basis, the added stress could enhance it, leading to a decline in mental health. In addition, hormones, such as melatonin, can have disadvantages for our mental health. Melatonin is significant because it helps regulate sleep cycles, however, when change has occurred to our body’s “normal” intake of this hormone, we get into an irregular sleep pattern which is not beneficial to our state of mind.

As mentioned before, researchers have also discovered that suicide and several mental health disorders peak during the spring. The underlying causes for people’s vulnerability to these mental illnesses have yet to be determined. One of the main mood disorders sparked during this season is mania, which is a condition characterized by a period of extreme changes in emotions, moods, and energy levels. It is typically noticeable by others due to its symptoms of unusual talkativeness, abnormally upbeat, and increased/decreased activity. Next, suicide rates tend to amplify during the spring and summer months. A study in 2016 revealed that there was an average of 110 suicides each day. This number (which has continued to increase) is unfortunate, and scientists and researchers are still working to this day to find the root cause of the susceptibility during this time period, and ways to help.

What can you do to make it through the spring?

There have been a few tactics that have been encouraged in order to help ease the major transition during season changes, which would lessen the symptoms of a decline in mental health. Firstly, it is extremely important to find a routine. Having a consistent routine can help stabilize any anxiety or sudden mood swings that might occur throughout the week. Even having a single event that is done every day such as going to the gym, walking your dog, or having dinner with a friend can make going through spring in particular, much easier. Furthermore, it is imperative to focus on sleep. Having a somewhat consistent sleep routine not only helps your body maintain its internal clock but it allows you to stay active throughout the day and fall asleep better at night. It also improves your mental well-being dramatically.
Doctors also recommend journaling in order to express thoughts and ideas to read in the future and to document mood changes for yourself and a professional. Lastly, it is vital to acknowledge that many people are also experiencing the same type of depression or anxiety increase during the spring and summer seasons. With the resources that exist today, receiving help has become much more accessible and easy to acquire. Whether it is in the comfort of your own home, or a few in-person visits at a medical center, a professional can help you improve your mental health if it is severely affected during the seasonal changes. With the emergence of the global pandemic a few years ago (during the spring), it was evident that the isolation, panic, and abundance of change during this time prompted a mental health crisis around the world. As the weather became warmer, and our inability to go outside and spend time with friends and family became close to impossible, we had to find new ways to cope in a revolving society.

Although springtime causes some unwanted feelings and emotions for some people, there are always solutions to help navigate this tough time. It is important to keep in mind, that having a few tough days is normal, but when it lasts for more than a few weeks, it is imperative to talk to someone. As mentioned before the idea of spring bringing showers of depression and unhappiness is very common, and professionals are continuing to look for answers and new ways to help individuals maintain their mental health and wellbeing.

The author's comments:

This is written by Trisha, a Communications Intern at the Brainwave Teen psychology organization. Our organization is run by high school students dedicated to educating our audiences about mental health and spreading awareness while trying to eliminate the stigma behind mental health. We want to share the articles that our departments write to other teenagers in hopes that they too will be inspired to speak up about mental health and share stories and invest their time in helping others.

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