One might think, as the weather gets nicer, that depression would get easier. But for me and countless others who suffer from clinical depression, nice weather does not equal less depression.
Even though our feelings are kind of like the weather – they come and go, you don’t have control over them, and you just have to accept it and adapt – feelings and weather are not directly related.
As a kid, you may have experienced elation as a result of the changing of the seasons. Summer means no school and no school means more fun. I think this is one of the reasons we grow up thinking that spring will make us happy.
It is true that a lot of people do happen to feel better once winter is over. Spring is full of life: people are out walking, birds are chirping, and bunnies are taking over the back yard. Who doesn’t like that?
Each year, I have very high expectations for spring. I look forward to the hope that a new season brings. I do enjoy being outside, so I think that as soon as it’s nice, “bam!” I am a different person.
Well, the unfortunate truth is that spring is NOT a cure for clinical depression. It can help SAD(seasonal affectedness disorder) and its depressive symptoms. But in most cases of severe depression, spring can actually bring about a worsening of symptoms. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, most suicide deaths as a result of depression occur in the spring.
Some doctors think that it has to do with the discord between mood and weather. In the winter, the weather is dreary and cold. The winter is still and quiet, and most people stay indoors. If you are depressed, you can relate to the winter weather. It is more conducive to what you feel like doing, and, the best part is, no one will judge you for it. It looks and feels on the outside how it feels on the inside. When spring arrives, people who suffer from depression will notice the difference between how they feel and the weather more keenly than those without depression. The weather gets nicer and no long relates to how it feels on the inside. If your mood does not change with the weather, your situation may seem more hopeless. You can no longer hide, and the difference is apparent.
In addition to this theory, I think there is more depression in the spring because of lofty expectations. Each year, I have very high expectations for spring. I look forward to the hope that a new season brings. I have all these grand plans to make this year a better year. I don’t know what type of magic I am believing in, because spring does not grant special powers…it’s just spring. But, nonetheless, I still expect things to be better in the spring.
But just because it’s warm out, doesn’t mean my depression is going to go away.
I have to make practical changes if I want different results. The season is going to change so my coping skills and my depression treatment must change with it.
First, I must remember that spring is not a cure. Second, I must realize that my habits are not going to magically change by themselves. I have to reform my habits, change my schedule, and practice fitting new activities into it. I am not going to wake up one morning and magically go for a run, tend my garden, go on a bike ride, walk to the library, and take my nieces and nephews to the park. It’s going to take time and patience. I’ve had winter habits for months. It is obviously going to take some time to change those habits.
I want to plant a garden this spring, so I have to start planning and preparing to do so. The garden won’t be done tomorrow, nor should it be. I have to take it one day at a time. If it gets put off until tomorrow, so be it! Today is not the last nice day ever. It’s OK to be a procrastinator from time to time. Don’t be so hard on yourself.