While people often link mental health dips with winter, symptoms can appear any time of the year. More than just the winter blues, there are times of the year when depression is more prevalent or anxiety heightens. No matter the season, it is important for people to get outside and enjoy nature. In Japanese culture, “forest bathing” is an important part of mental health maintenance. As spring 2021 approaches, it is important to stay aware of the changing seasons and how these seasonal changes affect our moods, habits, and relationships.
What Causes Changes to Mental Health?
Changes in mental health can be caused by influenced by many factors. Mental illness refers to a variety of disorders that affect mood, thinking, and behavior. Examples include depression, addiction, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar, and eating disorders. While everyone has mental health challenges from time to time, mental illness occurs with the presentation of ongoing signs and symptoms that affect a person’s ability to function.
Changes to a person’s mental health state can stem from many things, including:
- Seasonal changes
- Environmental factors
- Medication changes
- Altered mental states
Benefits of Spring on Mental Health
Seasonal changes are perhaps one of the more misunderstood causes of change in a person’s mental state. That’s because there are two sides to the coin — both a positive and a negative aspect. A person struggling with mental health issues will often find that spring is one of their best times of the year. The increase in temperature and added hours of sunlight encourage more socialization, give increased energy, and boost a person’s vitamin D levels. The fresh, outdoor air and sights and sounds of nature are natural mood boosters.
The Downside of Spring
While springtime is typically a time of renewal, happiness, and possibility, that isn’t the case for everyone. There are many situations where spring causes negative changes in a person’s mental health status.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is typically associated with winter, but the warmer temperatures and sunnier days don’t always do the trick to pull people out of SAD. Symptoms that occurred in winter, such as depression, sleeping too much, and weight gain, can change. Spring symptoms include anxiety, insomnia, irritability, and poor appetite.
Some theories surround the connection between high-pollen counts and increased anxiety or aggression stemming from inflammation. And those that need antihistamines may suffer the side effects common in the drugs: insomnia and anxiety.
Sunny Days Help Us Fight Depression
When moods change in the spring, the sunlight may be to blame. That’s because seeing people around them enjoy the cheeriness of spring only makes them sadder. It reminds them they aren’t having a good time like everyone else. Because sunlight boosts energy and motivation, suicide rates are often lower during the sunnier seasons.
FOMO, or fear of missing out, is another trigger for change. Even if someone feels better as spring arrives, seeing others enjoying springtime and feeling happy can cause them to feel worse because it reminds them that they aren’t having a good time the way everyone else seems to be.
Mental Health and Dual Diagnosis Help at Sunstone Recovery
Mental health struggles do not need to be a struggle in your life. If you or someone you know is feeling the strain of a mental health disorder, there is help available. Sunstone Recovery is a fully remote intensive outpatient program and dual diagnosis facility that focuses on treating mental health and substance use challenges for adults. Our virtual therapy programs offer effective, advantageous, and convenient solutions for the adults in the program. Call us today at 855.833.9199 or contact us online for more information.