Seasonal depression, previously known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), involves symptoms that come and go as the seasons change. The most recent edition of the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)” officially recognizes this condition as major depressive disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern.
Most commonly, symptoms of seasonal depression begin in the fall and winter and improve as spring rolls around, but that’s not always the case.
You might instead notice the reverse: mood changes that begin in spring and persist into summer. Some people refer to this type of depression as “reverse SAD,” in fact.
Since experts have linked the winter type of seasonal depression to lack of sunlight, you might wonder what triggers a low, sad mood in the springtime. After all, the days are lengthening, new growth is blossoming, and there’s plenty of sunshine.
As it turns out, the longer days, warmer weather, and all that greenery in bloom may actually have something to do with spring depression.
Below, we’ll explore the key signs and potential causes of spring depression, plus offer some tips to cope with symptoms and find professional support.
Spring depression involves many of the same signs and symptoms as major depression, although symptoms won’t necessarily show up in the exact same way for everyone — just as they won’t with MDD.
As the winter days lengthen and spring approaches, you might notice:
- a general low mood, which might include persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- less or no interest in your usual activities
- difficulty finding the motivation for your regular daily routine
- changes in energy, including lethargy or restlessness
- insomnia and other sleep difficulties
- trouble with concentrating or remembering information
- appetite or weight loss
- unusual agitation or irritability
- feelings of anger or aggression
- thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
You might also notice signs of depression brain fog and feel restless and unable to settle to any one activity. You could simply feel sad, low, and hopeless without any clear understanding of why.
Having thoughts of suicide?
Crisis helplines connect you with trained counselors who can offer compassionate support during a time of crisis. Crisis counselors don’t give advice or provide professional mental health treatment, but they can listen to what’s on your mind and help you identify some next steps toward getting care and treatment.
For some people, spring depression can also involve uncharacteristic episodes of aggressive or violent behavior, so you might also notice unusual anger that seems to wash over you without any specific trigger.