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Nancy Schimelpfening

Spring Forward, Fall Back Into Depression?

By March 28, 2014

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While many look forward to Daylight Saving Time and having more light at the end of the day, others, especially those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), may find themselves slipping back into depression at this time of year.

SAD, according to experts, is caused by a disturbance in our circadian rhythm.  Light entering into the eye controls this rhythm; but, during the winter months when days are shorter we may not be exposed to sufficient light during the morning hours, throwing our circadian rhythm off-balance and creating the symptoms of SAD (depression, fatigue and a craving for sweets).

For those with SAD, the longer days of spring bring relief from depression.  The arrival of Daylight Saving Time, however, may cause a temporary return of these symptoms as you are forced to once again wake when it is still dark and may not receive adequate exposure to morning light.

The best treatment for SAD?  According to SAD researcher Dr. Michael Terman bright light therapy has the best data supporting it.  Bright light therapy involves sitting in front of a  device designed for this purpose called a light box for about 30 minutes each morning to simulate the light you would normally get by being outside in sunlight.

Do you fall into a season long slump each winter that lifts as spring approaches?  Speak with your doctor about the possibility that you may be experiencing seasonal affective disorder.

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March 17, 2010 at 7:03 am
(1) Sandra says:

I deal with deep depression every winter. I do have trouble when the Day Light Savings time comes around. It takes me a month or so to get back into a somewhat normal sleep pattern. While doing so I feel so tired that it is hard to stay awake in the daytime. In the Spring when it warms up I sit on my deck and drink my coffee when the sun comes up. That helps a lot! Winter seems very long and a very dark time for me. I hate it!

March 16, 2011 at 7:51 pm
(2) Patti says:

I am often plagued with depression,no what the time of year.
It seems I always have a hard time sleeping and even getting up in the morning light.Of course winter is the worse for me.
I hate depression in general,but refuse to take medicine for it.
There has to be a better way to deal with it.

March 17, 2010 at 8:46 am
(3) 57Cuznz says:

It means the End of Winter and longer, warmer day’s. I love it. I suffer Major Recurrent Depression, Anxiety, & Panic Attacks. I do get Much Better when Spring Puts a Little Pep in My Step!

March 17, 2010 at 9:14 am
(4) Lizy says:

I have clinical depression which always gets worse in the winter. I get much better after daylight savings time when the days are longer and warmer but I usually feel worse for a week or two first. I have a terrible time in the winter just completing everyday things & am constantly planning things with friends only to cancel at the last minute because I just can’t seem to make myself go. In the summer I get things done, see friends a lot more often and just participate in life much better.

March 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm
(5) Susie says:

Hi All
I have major resistant depression and I find that the weather does very little to affect my mood. I do find that if I have a good day that when ( and it is always when..not ‘if’ ) I do go back into the hole – it feels 100 times worse…I think it is because I have had a taste of the good and the difference is marked. THis is something i think we all have to learn to live with and that recovery, if it happens, is nothing short of a miracle. Maybe if you get treatment very early there is a chance of a full recovery – but, if you are like me, and found you had to cover it up to stay at work, then it is too late once the damage is too deep. I live in hope – but every day that I am still alive is a bonus…thank you Lord. x

March 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm
(6) A_Sirius_Bee says:

I hate winter – my depression is 10X worse in the winter!!!!
Susie, I know what you mean about having a really good day, then the next day or the day after that, it’s like it never happened! You can’t get out of bed and if you do, you can’t find the energy to get out the house. I struggle EVERYDAY with making myself do what I need to do: house cleaning, shopping, email, phone calls…man! However, I felt really good this week, ’cause the sun has been shinin’ and it’s really beautiful outside. The sunsets….AMAZING! But I still have a lack of energy and have lost interest in the things I used to do, like taking college course & hangin’ out with my friends…I don’t know how I’m going to conquer that.

April 23, 2010 at 5:09 pm
(7) Ginny says:

I suffer from a few illness bu this year has been the pits and I believe I suffer from SAD but no one has suggested it or dx me with it… this spring as been a bit better but not great.. my question is it possible to still suffer with SAD even if it is spring.. being that I am still suffering with it..

March 16, 2011 at 4:42 am
(8) anhar says:

I have been diagnosed with Depression 6 months ago and have been on Prozac ever since, but when I was first diganosed I never had any suicidal thoughts, now as the spring is coming I catch my self contemplating about suicide with all its means.

March 16, 2011 at 8:00 pm
(9) Patti says:

Anhar,don’t think about that.Killing yourself won’t work out the problem.And there is no way back.You just have to hang in there and ask God to help you through.He’ll be there. I know I’ve been on that road too.

March 16, 2011 at 8:33 am
(10) Beverly says:

I used to be affected strongly by winter months and ‘darkness’; now it seems season changes : fall to winter and winter to spring trigger the depression. I am one of the fortunate ones for which medications work.

March 16, 2011 at 7:56 pm
(11) Patti says:

Depression is hard no matter if it’s in winter or spring.I find it hard to deal with it all through the year.Have trouble sleeping and even getting up in the morning light.
I don’t take anything for it,as there has to be a better way to deal with it than taking meds.

April 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm
(12) CT Gardengirl says:

I’ve been treated for depression ( and yes, it helped tremendously), and discovered I had SAD underneath.
So I use a light box now during the winter, from late October to about May.
I start to feel pretty good towards late Feb, and then DST comes, and I am depressed and struggle again for another month or so. And I have ADD on top of that, but not nearly as bad as my younger years. Oh the joy. Sigh. Anyway, the lightbox definitely has helped make winter bearable. Brisk exercise does too (walk 30 min/day briskly), and staying away from sugar and fat, which can depress, make you sluggish, tired and irritable. I take supplements, like fish oil and Vit D. I try to stay away from stressful situations and stressful negative thinking. This has helped me alot. And as a Christian, reading and studying my bible helps to control negative thoughts and gives me strength for the day. I hope something I’ve suggested here helps someone. You aren’t alone!

April 2, 2014 at 6:58 am
(13) Tim says:

Hi; I can’t see any corrolation in my illness between summer and winter; what I have noticed is how much the continual rain of this year has dragged me down. I suppose it is not the dark that got me but the grey.

April 2, 2014 at 7:05 am
(14) tina says:

i’ve dealt with depression all my life. i remember being as young as 7 yrs old and feeling down. winter is bad for me. i love the sunshine now. it really boosts my mood but doesnt really bring me out of my depression. i’ve been on tons of meds over the years. sometimes they work. sometimes they dont. i believe i have SAD but i also have bipolar disorder, anxiety, ptsd, panic disorder and ocd. sounds really bad when i write it all down. lol! i am dealing with finding a new psychiatrist and therapist at this time so that makes it more difficult but i know i can get through it. i have talked to my dr’s about a light box. with my bipolar disorder though they are leary of them because it may put me in a manic episode. has anyone experienced this? just want to tell everyone i enjoy reading your comments. please keep trying different things when it comes to depression and no energy. anhar…i hope you are ok. please tell your dr about your suicidal thoughs. a change in meds will help. i have been there and it’s not fun but a hospital stay helped me get back on track. :)

April 3, 2014 at 5:40 am
(15) Lizzie says:

I have got chronic clinical depression and have had this since I was 9 so have been living with it for a long time. I choose not to take medication now after about 5 years of bad experiences with side effects and no discernible difference in my mood – well lower if anything. For the last 10 years I have been medication free but it hasn’t been easy.
I have had to come to terms with the fact that I will never be completely free of the bully that is depression so I have had to learn to live with it, stand up to it and manage it. My ongoing goal now is not to be cured but to make an impact on the frequency and severity of the episodes – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
I too find that the dark, grey and dreary can impact on my mood – although unlike most, I find Spring and Summer the worst – these are the days when the sun is shining and I feel that I SHOULD feel better and I SHOULD go out but I don’t have any greater energy to do this at this time of year than at any other. So when the sunshine comes so does the guilt

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