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Why You Should Know About Spring Fever & Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Why You Should Know About Spring Fever & Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

 
Photo by  JR Korpa  on  Unsplash

Photo by JR Korpa on Unsplash

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is a type of depression during transitions between seasons. Seasonal Affective Disorder happens twice year: winter blues is between fall and winter; and spring fever/spring fatigue is from winter to spring.

During spring fever, the biggest fluctuations in environment take place with changes in air pressure, the amount of sunlight, humidity and temperature which affect the human body’s circadian rhythm and hormone production. In winter, body temperature drops; blood pressure and melatonin production rises. Going into spring, body temperature rises, blood pressure drops and serotonin.   

                                       WINTER                                SPRING
body temperature
         drops                                   rises
blood pressure              rises                                      drops
hormones                      melatonin rises                     serotonin

Spring for 2018 began on Tuesday, March 20 and ended on Thursday, June 21 (in Northern Hemisphere, Pacific Time). According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, April 2018 was 3rd warmest on record for the globe. During spring, the body detoxes; the liver pushes out toxins like viral byproduct, heavy metals, pesticides and plastic into the bloodstream triggering SAD-related symptoms:

  • lethargy/low energy/fatigue

  • feeling lost, disconnected, lonely

  • disrupted sleep, listlessness,

  • mild to suicidal depression, hopelessness,

  • anxiety/nervousness, moodiness

  • focus and concentration issues,

  • aches and pains, arthritis,

  • allergies, headaches,

  • weakened immune system

According to Anthony William, the Medical Medium, symptoms related to seasonal affective disorder are actually neurological. Health conditions that were already present will be exacerbated during SAD; a tendency toward depression, a sluggish liver, high heavy metal toxicity load, fatigue, edema, sinus issues, the Epstein-Barr virus, shingles and cytomegalovirus (a kind of herpes virus that excretes neurotoxins, causing fatigue and problems in organs like the kidneys, heart and liver).

Emotional pain also affects the nervous system; losing a loved one can trigger depression; going through a divorce can mean a loss of trust and loss of a close relationship. Spring fever affects millions of people worldwide and more women are diagnosed with SAD than men.

SPRING FEVER AND SUICIDE

Spring fever may not have had a huge effect on a person in the past several years, but after 10 years of mild symptoms, one could be hit hard with more extreme feelings of depression, low energy and the other types of SAD-related symptoms.

There have been links found connecting allergies, mood disorders, advanced age and suicidality. Older people are more affected than younger people. Despite popular belief, there are actually more suicides in late spring or summer than during winter holidays: 

“…the seasonal peak in aeroallergens resulting in the concomitant worsening of allergy symptoms could (via inflammatory mediators of worsening allergy symptoms) potentially worsens depressive symptoms, anxiety and impulsivity in mood disorder patients, resulting in exacerbated risk of suicidal behavior.” ( https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315262/ )

“…the seasonal peak in aeroallergens resulting in the concomitant worsening of allergy symptoms could (via inflammatory mediators of worsening allergy symptoms) potentially worsens depressive symptoms, anxiety and impulsivity in mood disorder patients, resulting in exacerbated risk of suicidal behavior.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3315262/)

There are categories of types of suicides: violent (which include hanging, drowning, jumping and firearms) and non-violent (consumption of poisons, drugs, gases, and vapors).  In May, there is a 16% spike in violent suicides and in December, there is a corresponding 16% drop in violent suicides.

According to Robert Gebbia, the CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, research has found that the decision to commit suicide is often impulsive. A person may think about it for some time but to decide to take action is actually a very small window. The feelings often pass and if weren’t as easy to have access to commit suicide, people could get the help they need:  https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/07/617897261/cdc-u-s-suicide-rates-have-climbed-dramatically

The spring suicide peak has more of an effect on agricultural workers who are exposed to the elements of harsher weather. Countries with a higher percentage of agricultural workers have a higher rate of suicide. Since office workers have a more regulated environment, their symptoms are less severe.

According to the CDC, between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates have increased by 30% in the U.S. and even more so in 25 of the states. About half of the people who committed suicide did not have a known mental issue but were dealing with life issues: health, addiction, relationship, job, finance, and recent or current crises/events. To address the suicide spikes, the CDC suggests strategies such as teaching coping, problem-solving skills, cognitive-behavioral therapies, especially early in life, and promoting social connectedness. 

Now that I know about S.A.D. and spring fever, I can’t help but wonder if Anthony Bourdain (June 25, 1956 - June 8, 2018) & Kate Spade (December 24, 1962 - June 5, 2018) could have been spared. Would it have made a difference for them to wait a few months? If there was more of an awareness of the risk of suicide during spring and they had more support behind them, would they still be with us?

Personally, I have found it extremely helpful to turn to a cancer support center and have been going a few times a week. I have made connections with people who know what it is like to deal with the same issues that most other people cannot fully understand or empathize with. I can’t fully express what sort of comfort it is to be a part of these groups, to be able to relate and share with people who have had their lives change from cancer.

I also found a phone app called iCBT very useful in cognitive behavioral therapy. In the past, after something was said or done that bothered me, I would re-play the event in my mind for days, going through the whys and trying to justify what happened. I would repeat this cycle, I wasn’t able to let it go. After using the iCBT app, it’s helped me see those events in a different way, permanently. What bothered me before doesn’t anymore. It’s like looking at a situation after years have passed; you see things with more clarity.

Summer S.A.D.

But we’re not in the clear after spring either. In the summer, the air contains less oxygen and more radiation and heavy metals. If you are already experiencing fatigue and edema, they can get worse during summer months. There has been a positive correlation found between air pollutants and admission rate of psychiatric patients in St. Louis. Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/760550

The planet is experiencing more extreme weather and atmospheric changes affecting humans and animals. So it’s even more important that we practice self-care to offset the strain put on our bodies to adjust.

Just knowing that spring fever is a thing was a huge relief to me. For months, I’ve been lethargic, unable to explain this big change in my energy level. The fatigue has been debilitating. I was beginning to feel despair because none of the usual tricks and hacks I turn to for energy boosts had been working. Caffeine made no difference, naps weren’t either. And if they did help, it didn’t last long.

I was feeling especially discouraged because I do so much to keep up with my health on a daily basis. All the work I was putting in to doing meditation, cooking from scratch, enemas, reading, getting off sugar, weekly acupuncture appointments, juicing, going to bed early, yoga, walks, affirmations, breathwork and going to support groups wasn’t giving me the same benefit as usual.

I learned about spring fever right in the middle of it and have been meaning to post about it, but I was too d*** tired and depressed about being tired. But now, I have an explanation for my low energy and I will keep on with my healing and healthy daily routines.

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