Winter invariably has a sting in its tail, and with the Beast from the East made sure that 2018 was no exception, with freezing temperatures and chaos on the roads. At last, however, we can welcome the arrival of spring, and that has to be particularly welcome news for the one in three adults who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Or is it? A study carried out by National Center for Research Statistics in America revealed that there are more suicides in spring than any other season. Back in 2011, the BBC ran a feature that gave identical findings for the UK, with suicides peaking in April and May. So what exactly is happening?
A wonderful time of year
Blossom on the trees, daffodils poking their heads through the ground, lambs in the fields and the chance to get out and enjoy it all in warmer weather. What’s not to love? Therein lies the problem. The pressure to be happy during this beautiful season can have the opposite effect, particularly for those suffering from depression.
Anyone afflicted with anxiety will know that change is a common trigger. And change is what spring is all about. Even time itself changes at the end of March as we transition from GMT to BST. While winter can be described as one drab day after another, spring is a time for new beginnings. To some, that sounds exciting and full of promise, while for others, it can easily trigger feelings of helplessness and panic.
These psychological factors can be exacerbated by physical irritants too – quite literally for those who are prone to allergies. Some years ago, respected author Anahad O’Connor wrote this thought provoking article in the New York Times, in which he examined the link between allergies and depression.
He cited research carried out in both the USA and Finland – a country that knows more than most about SAD – that showed some compelling correlations.
Staying sane in spring
If you are the sort of person who is tempted towards acts of violence towards those who seem impossibly cheerful that spring is in the air, relax, you are not alone. Gambolling in the fields alongside the new born lambs is not obligatory, and it is OK to prefer to stay indoors.
It is true that the increased sunlight and warmer temperatures in spring prompt the body to generate heightened levels of serotonin, and that these promote feelings of wellbeing and happiness. Fortunately, there are also other natural ways of maintaining serotonin levels from the comfort of your own home, and without getting caught in a spring shower or falling victim to a sneezing attack.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that if something makes one person happy, that’s fine. It doesn’t mean it has to have the same effect on everyone. The world would be a boring place if we all reacted to the same stimuli in the same way. It is OK to be different, and to enjoy spring, or any other season, in your own way.