Spring is here so we should be upbeat and energized, right? Not necessarily. Springtime can be difficult for those living with anxiety and depression. In fact, there are higher reported rates of depression and suicidal thoughts in spring and summer than in the colder months.
According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of spring and summer depression include anxiety, insomnia, and loss of appetite. The symptoms often co-occur with others such as an inability to experience pleasure in previously enjoyed activities, apathy, difficulties in concentration and hopelessness. Some possible causes include variations in how we absorb light, hormonal changes and allergens.
Whatever the causes, it can feel awful. Anxiety and depression can transform the simplest task into a Herculean feat.
Each of us experiences these symptoms in a unique way. Men, women, the elderly and adolescents often present different behaviors. Men tend to minimize difficulties, become reckless, and use alcohol and drugs to mask feelings. Women will often blame themselves for difficulties, ruminate over problems, and be more open to expressing their emotions.
The elderly may deny depression but may become more preoccupied with body aches or pains that cause them to withdraw. Older adults may also show more signs of confusion or memory loss, often misdiagnosed as dementia. And teens withdraw, are tearful, erratic and may change patterns of sleep, eating and communication with peer groups.
Regardless of our age or gender, most of us try to push through these difficult times, we “white knuckle it” because we have to. Life becomes a grueling endurance contest. But there are coping skills and support that can ease the suffering.
First, recognize that you can manage these symptoms with some help. Common sense rules apply. Get out and take a walk. Try to do it for 15 minutes one day and increase the time slowly every day. Try to eat right and don’t turn to alcohol or illegal drugs to “self-medicate.” Perhaps most importantly, talk to someone about what you are feeling.
Some find it helpful to make a daily schedule and cross things off the list as you complete them. This activity can help you feel you are gaining control over things in your life and help you also feel that you are accomplishing things. Taking control and accomplishing tasks, even simple ones, can go a long way to helping you feel better about yourself and your ability to manage your life.
Be sure to include an enjoyable activity such as watching a light or humorous movie, watching birds or doing a word search. Others find it helpful to write down your thoughts in a journal. Many increase their prayer time.
It is important to treat yourself with kindness, to realize that you are not feeling well and need to take it easy. Certainly do what you must but give yourself a break from high expectations for a short time. You’ll get back to your old self, it may just take a little while.
There is plenty of help if you have the courage to seek it. There are pastors, family members, friends, physicians, and therapists who can help. If you are feeling shaken and afraid, seek help from someone.
Spring doesn’t have to be scary. There is still time to enjoy the season.
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