By Jim Woods

Disappointed sun graphicThe weather is changing outside. The birds are chirping, the flowers are blooming and the sun is shining. Despite this pleasant change in weather, historically, many people experience mental health issues during the springtime. It is possible that part of this could be connected to seasonal pollen allergies, as they affect over 36 million people.1

In many cases, these allergies may cause individuals to feel sneezy and grumpy, and studies have even shown a link between allergies and depression. Think about it: when you feel under the weather, you often miss out on normal activities. You also likely spend more time alone. There is a clear connection between loneliness and isolation and depression.2

Why Seasonal Changes Affect Mental Health

In some cases, individuals may struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that is often connected to the fall and winter seasons as there is less and less sunlight each day. But this condition can also be connected with the spring and summer seasons.

There are several reasons why the change in seasons can affect mental health:

  • Changes in seasons can cause changes in an individual’s biological clock.
  • The hormone melatonin can be disrupted.
  • The neurotransmitter serotonin can fall as a result of less sunlight.3

While this information may help explain SAD, it doesn’t quite explain why there is often a spike in suicide attempts during the spring. Dr. Grady Dixon, of Mississippi State University, has two theories to help explain why suicide attempts rise in the spring. His first theory is that spring is the first time when severely depressed people find enough motivation to participate in a suicide attempt.

Dixon’s next theory is that individuals know they have SAD and anticipate they will feel better when spring comes. When they don’t feel better, it can become a catalyst for even more negative thoughts and actions.4

Some Common Signs to Look For

The symptoms of depression and SAD can vary for each individual. In some cases, an individual may have been experiencing symptoms for years. He may not know a problem exists because, for him, depression feels “normal.” For this reason, it is important to know a few of the symptoms.

Here are a few things to look out for:

  • High-level anxiety
  • Sleeplessness
  • Exhaustion
  • Agitation
  • Changes in energy levels
  • Feelings of worthlessness or deep sadness
  • Lack of appetite5

If you are experiencing these symptoms, please consider going to your doctor or mental health care provider. A simple conversation can be all it takes to get help managing how you feel. Your doctor may prescribe you an antidepressant to help you feel better. As mentioned above, there is a direct connection between loneliness and depression. Please get the support and help you need so you can feel better.

Steps That Can Help

Research shows that exercise can also help improve mood and reduce anxiety.6 While exercise is very important, it is a good idea to participate in some form of physical exercise with a friend. You’ll not only feel better, you will also feel more connected with your friend.

Volunteering to help others is another great idea. When you are connected with other people and making a positive impact, you are much less likely to feel lonely or isolated. You can even make a few new friends.

Another option you can implement today is trying out aromatherapy — using plant materials or essential oils — to improve your mood. Some studies show aromatherapy helps give the user relief from depression or anxiety.7

How to Get More Information

If you think you may have some form of depression or if you are experiencing thoughts of self-harm, please know you can reach out for help. It’s important to treat these mental health challenges because these conditions can limit your ability to live your life to the fullest. Our medical professionals at Lakeside are ready to help. Call now to speak with one of our caring professionals who will listen. Please don’t wait any longer — start moving forward today.

1 Landau, Elizabeth. “Sad In The Spring? Allergy-mood Link Is Real.” CNN, Accessed on May 7, 2018.

2 Vann, Madeline. “Dealing with Depression and Loneliness.” Healthline, Accessed on May 7, 2018.

3 Tracy, Natasha. “What is Seasonal Affective Disorder, Seasonal Depression?” Healthyplace, Accessed May 7, 2018.

4 Hauser, Annie. “The Connection Between Spring and Suicide.” The Weather Channel, Accessed May 7, 2018.

5 Thorpe, JR. “What Is Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder? Seasonal Depression During The Spring And Summer Isn’t Uncommon And Could Affect You.” Bustle, Accessed May 7, 2018.

6Depression and Anxiety: Exercise Eases Symptoms.” MayoClinic, Accessed May 7, 2018.

7 Bauer, Brent. “What Are The Benefits of Aromatherapy?” MayoClinic, Accessed May 7, 2018.