As the world undergoes its annual metamorphosis, transitioning from the vibrant hues of summer to the crisp embrace of autumn and the icy stillness of winter, the changing seasons bring more than just shifts in weather. This transformation also intrinsically intertwines with our mental health, shaping moods, energy levels, and overall psychological landscape.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health , “if you have noticed significant changes in your mood and behavior when the seasons change, you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In most cases, SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer, known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression.”
What are the signs  ?
- Feeling depressed most of the day, almost every day
- The feeling of worthlessness, helplessness, and/or hopelessness
- Low energy and fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Carb cravings
Do you know that “about 5% of adults in the U.S. experience SAD and it typically lasts about 40% of the year. It is more common among women than men ”? Additionally, Mental Health America affirms: “Four out five people who have seasonal depression are women; the main age of onset of seasonal depression is between 20 and 30 years of age, however symptoms can appear earlier; the prevalence of seasonal depression is anywhere from 0-10% of the population, depending on the geographic region; typically, the further one is from the equator, the more at risk they are for seasonal depression.”
What is the treatment ?
- Phototherapy or bright light therapy has been shown to suppress the brain’s secretion of melatonin.
- Antidepressant drug may prove effective in reducing or eliminating symptoms, but there may be unwanted side effects to consider.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has also been shown to be effective; however, research is limited.
In contemplating the intricate dance between changing seasons and mental health, one is reminded of nature’s profound influence on the human psyche. As we navigate the cyclical transitions, it becomes evident that our wellbeing is, indeed, intricately connected to the ebb and flow of the world around us. Acknowledging this symbiotic relationship offers an opportunity for reflection and proactive self-care, empowering individuals to adapt and thrive amidst the ever-changing seasons of life.