Feeling down? Top psychologist says you could be suffering ‘springtime depression’ – the less common form of Seasonal Affective Disorder that affects 1million Americans

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Now that spring is here, you’ve probably moved on from the winter blues. 

However, if you’re still feeling bouts of sadness despite the warmer temperatures and increased sunlight, you’re not alone. 

Experts warn that you could one of over a million US adults suffering from springtime depression, where feelings of sadness and lack of motivation start as winter ends and lasts until summer. 

Dr Supria Gill, a behavioral psychologist at Kaiser Permanante in California, said that this lesser-known form of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) could be due to a surge in allergy symptoms, as well as a fear of missing out. 

She noted that this could be responsible for suicide rates spiking in the spring and summer rather than during colder months. 

Dr Supria Gill, a behavioral psychologist at Kaiser Permanante in California, said springtime depression could be due to a surge in allergies from ‘pollen bombs’ across the country

‘It can be pretty surprising, especially because in the winter time, we have shorter days, less sunlight, and that is one of the big contributors to seasonal affective disorder in the winter,’ Dr Gill told KCRA 3.  

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs when seasons change.

Dr Gill said that signs of springtime depression include loss of interest in activities you usually enjoy, feeling sad for most of the day, chronic fatigue, social withdrawal, appetite changes, trouble concentrating, and sleeping more than usual. 

For most people, symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter, as the skies get dark earlier and the temperature drops. 

However, SAD can also occur during the transition from spring to summer. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), about five percent of US adults – nearly 13 million – suffer from SAD, which can least up to 40 percent of the year. 

Experts estimate that of those 13 million adults, 10 percent feel this reverse seasonal depression starting in the spring and stretching into the summer. 

Dr Gill attributed springtime depression to a fear of missing out that comes with the seasons changing. 

She said that while many Americans struggle with the shift from being cooped up inside during the winter to the days becoming longer and warmer. 

‘Seeing other people out and about doing things can really worsen their feelings of depression, and so that social comparison can be a factor,’ she said.

Additionally, allergy season, which usually starts in April but has gotten early due to climate change, could contribute the springtime depression by making people want to spend more time inside and less time outside with friends or loved ones. 

Dr Gill noted that ‘one of the startling statistics about this time of year is that suicide rates are actually higher.’

‘Many people think that suicide rates, understandably, would be higher in the winter. December is actually the lowest in terms of suicide rates, while late spring and early summer have the highest rates of completion, so we know that people are struggling with their emotions at this time.’ 

According to provisional CDC data, there were 4,375 suicide deaths in April 2022, the high for the year. In December, there were 3,960. 

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), about five percent of US adults - nearly 13 million - suffer from SAD. Experts estimate that of those, 10 percent feel this reverse seasonal depression starting in the spring and stretching into the summer

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), about five percent of US adults – nearly 13 million – suffer from SAD. Experts estimate that of those, 10 percent feel this reverse seasonal depression starting in the spring and stretching into the summer

While many people talk about suffering the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder during the cold, bitter winter months, it turns out it may be more impactful during the summertime, with suicide rates increasing May through October

While many people talk about suffering the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder during the cold, bitter winter months, it turns out it may be more impactful during the summertime, with suicide rates increasing May through October

To combat these feelings, Dr Gill recommended focusing on ‘the big three: exercise, sleep, and diet.’

For exercise, she noted that even a walk outside can boost mood for some people just as much as taking antidepressant medications. 

An Australian review of 218 studies and 14,170 participants, for example, found that low-intensity exercises like a stroll outside, a light jog, and yoga led to fewer symptoms of depression.  

The researchers stressed that while more studies are needed, these types of exercises ‘could be considered alongside psychotherapy and drugs as core treatments for depression.’ 

Dr Gill also pointed to an anti-inflammatory diet, as inflammation has been shown to alter signals in the brain that impact mood. These foods include dark leafy greens, omega-3 rich foods like salmon and avocados, and vitamin C sources like fresh citrus. 

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