Spring is here- or almost here! The promise of warmer, sunnier times puts pep in most peoples’ step...but did you know that there’s a population that suffers from summer-pattern seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
SAD - Not Just For the Winter Months
This type of depression is most often talked about in regards to its fall and winter pattern- you may have heard of it referred to as ‘winter blues’ and attributed to the lack of sunlight (which can drop serotonin production), but SAD has a lesser known counterpart for the spring and summer months. Instead of weight gain and lethargy- common in fall and winter pattern SAD- spring and summer pattern SAD symptoms include weight loss, anxiety, and/or agitation.
The existence of summer-pattern SAD shouldn’t be a surprise- many people with bipolar type I are already familiar with the risks of hypomania and mania with seasonal changes in sunlight - but it remains fairly under-discussed, which means its likely fairly under-diagnosed, too.
Want to learn more? Check out the United States National Institute of Mental Health’s website.
Weather Impacts Your Mood, Too
It’s easy to see how a change in seasons can impact a person’s outlook on life, but did you know that even daily weather patterns can impact a person’s mood? In the ‘best’ case scenario, just imagine a little kid staring out the window at a dreary, rainy day, and you’ve got the gist of it. In the worst case, people find themselves more at risk of a mental health incident because of the weather.
While there’s academic debate as to whether these shifts are a result of ‘weather’ itself or a result of behavior/activity changes due to the weather, there’s definitely something about daily weather that can affect a person’s attitude. People tend to be more active on a warm, sunny day (benefitting from exercise, the outdoors, and social interaction) versus a colder/darker day, when people tend to isolate themselves indoors, even if science has had difficulty isolating the ‘weather’ variable (which includes temperature, atmospheric pressure, cloud cover, etc).
Regardless of the gritty details, weather has a say in what we do and how we feel, even for those of us not wholly aware of it! Keep in touch with how daily weather might sway your daily attitude and activities to keep the reins on your mood, whether you’re a ‘rain-hater’ or prefer a cool, cloudy day.
5 Things You Didn't Know Could Affect Your Mood
Music: Long before mood altering substances, there was music. If you need a nudge in the right direction, try queueing up a few songs to match what you’re aiming for, People use it to get moving, get motivated, get relaxed, or just keep their mind otherwise occupied.
Diet: Digestive woes aside, what you ingest can set the tone of your physical wellbeing for several days, from poor complexion to heartburn. If you’re feeling a low-grade unhealthiness, take a look at what you’re eating.
Social Media: Whether it’s doom scrolling or envy ogling, what gets presented on social media doesn’t add up to reality. Limit your intake to avoid getting spun up over issues that you cannot change or making unrealistic comparisons to your own life.
Clutter: Besides amassing a dust bunny army (which can trigger allergies), clutter can actually slow down your daily productivity. Keep your working space tidy to keep your focus on the task at hand.
Sleep: The importance of a good night’s sleep cannot be overstated. Get your body into the habit of falling asleep by saving the bedroom for bedroom only activities. Late night exposure to device screens (your phone, the TV, your laptop) makes it that much harder to fall asleep, too, so take a half hour break from electronics before bed.