Contrary to popular belief, spring isn’t always a season of sunshine for some people. In fact, many individuals actually feel worse in the warmer months than they do during hibernation season. But how could that be possible with birds singing and flowers blossoming?
Well, there are two likely reasons for why you or your loved ones might not be feeling the happy spring spirit. These are allergies and reverse Seasonal Affective Disease (SAD). Let’s tackle one at a time to see how they may be affecting your experience of spring.
Research has shown that the rise in seasonal allergies during spring correlates with a rise in depression. And when you think about it, this makes total sense! After all, who feels happy with a runny nose and itchy, sore eyes?
But more than just this, it turns out that chemical messengers called cytokines (which are activated when allergy attacks occur) incite an occurrence called ‘sickness behaviour’. This behavior is depicted by withdrawal from your environment, decreased sex drive, reduced appetite and increased sleeping. All of which are symptoms very similar to common of depression.
And even if cytokines aren’t activated, having allergies can often result in a poor night’s sleep, which may contribute to depression-like symptoms.
The second culprit, reverse SAD, is a form of recurrent depression that begins and ends at around the same time each year. For most SAD sufferers, their symptoms (which include irritability, loss of appetite, weight loss, restlessness, depression and insomnia) begin in autumn and recede by spring. For one out of ten SAD targets though, the reverse is true with symptoms appearing as we head into the warmer months.
Some experts believe that this type of depression is connected to a negative reaction to warmer heat and humidity and suggest that visiting somewhere cooler during the spring and summer months can offer relief.
But what do you do if can’t escape to the snow this spring? Here are some easy tips to escape the heat and find happiness this season:
If you are feeling depressed then you should get an expert to help and support you through this time. You do not have to suffer alone! You can visit your local doctor or naturopath for advice or even call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
While it might feel like the last thing you want to do, regular physical activity has been shown to help treat depression. If the heat gets you down, try working out early in the morning or in the evening while it’s a bit cooler.
We all know how good we feel after a quality night’s sleep. On the flipside, the same can be true for a bad night’s sleep. But research has shown that not getting enough quality sleep can actually trigger depression, which makes it the perfect reason to put sleep first and make it a consistent priority in your life.
The more coping mechanisms you have in place to avoid and manage stress, the better able you will be to cope with taxing situations and experiences. Try meditating, deep breathing, visualising, listening to relaxing music or painting as ideas to lower your stress levels.
You can also prepare in advance to help ease the symptoms and make the season easier to handle in future years. Ideas include planning a holiday to somewhere cooler or simply keep on top with your self-care practices to decrease stress and ensure you’re fit, healthy and able to cope with the extra pressure.
And finally, if you don’t feel like fulfilling your social commitments and want time out, then do it. Take long baths, chat with friends who leave you feeling inspired and uplifted and do things that make you feel good.