Here’s Why Late Winter and Early Spring Can Be So Depressing

Maddie Abuyuan / BuzzFeed News

If you’re feeling incredibly depressed right now and it’s not caused by something obvious or specific like the news cycle, your relationships, work stress, or anything else, remember that this time of year can be a mood buster. in general for some people.

It’s not as common as winter depression, but spring depression is “absolutely real,” said Dr. Paul Desan, associate professor of psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine.

And it’s not seasonal in the same way as the winter blues, otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder or SAD, according to Dr. John Sharp, author of The Emotional Calendar It is The Insight Cure. Depression in the coldest months is closely linked to diminished light in the darkest part of the year, especially in areas far from the equator. According to Sharp, the so-called “reverse SAD”, ​​which is the depression in the summer months, is also different from the spring depression.

The reasons for spring depression are less clear, but the symptoms are similar – difficulty concentrating, low energy, crying, feeling worthless and losing interest in things you used to enjoy.

Find out why April, along with March and May, can be the cruelest months.

A season of transitions

The early spring depression may be due in part to various transitions, such as the end of the school year, the rush to graduations in May and June, or the relocation associated with the season. “It disrupts routine,” said Naomi Torres-Mackie, a clinical psychologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City and head of research for the Mental Health Coalition. “Anytime there’s something new to get used to, it can be psychologically draining.”

And if spring doesn’t live up to your expectations while you hibernate and fantasize, it can be even harder. “I think of it as the fall of spring,” said Torres-Mackie. “Feelings of disappointment can really affect your mood.”

Other stressors in the warmer months may also contribute. This includes travel expenses and even body image issues when people wear less clothing, said Dr. Samar McCutcheon, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center.

waste an hour

The “Spring Forward” time shift, which occurs in March, may or may not play a role in the spring depression.

On the one hand, the increase in symptoms at this time of year was noticed much earlier DST has been established and has been reported in countries that do not have daylight saving time, Desan said.

On the other hand, it represents another rupture. “An hour of difference really keeps people apart for a lot longer than a day,” said Sharp, who is also on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine.

The time change is associated with other medical issues, particularly the following week. This includes more heart attacks and strokes, car accidents and digestive problems.

The effect of social networks

Some social media platforms like Instagram are filled with images of people socializing and having a good time. If you are one of those people, great. But Torres-Mackie said: “If you don’t have a lot of social support and you’re seeing a lot of other people coming together but not experiencing it, that can amplify feelings. Feeling depressed and seeing other people socializing can hurt twice as much.”

Depression can also arise when you blame yourself for being outside the norm. “If people start to wonder, What is wrong with me? and have a tendency to internalize, that’s when we really see depressive symptoms,” said Torres-Mackie.

Symptoms can be particularly acute in summer. “One of the hardest parts of the summer depression is that people are supposed to be happier in the summer,” McCutcheon said. “This can make people suffering from summer depression feel especially bad about their depressive symptoms.”


studies linked seasonal allergies with spring and summer depressionincluding an article that reported worsening mood in a group of about 1,300 people in Pennsylvania on days with high pollen counts in spring and summer, but not in winter.

“The physical body and the connection to humor are strong,” Torres-Mackie said. “Pollen leads to inflammation in the body, and that inflammation can negatively affect your mood.”

The authors of that study noted that allergens not only stimulate the immune responses that cause inflammation in the skin and nose, but also in the central nervous system. This can affect neurotransmitters, sleep, memory and emotions, they said.

If you’re prone to allergies, Torres-Mackie suggests managing your exposure to different allergens.

“Spring Fever”

While seemingly contradictory, the surge of energy many people experience as the days get longer may be linked to a higher risk of suicide in the spring. (Experts we spoke to and some sources suggest that Suicide rates are highest in the springalthough recent CDC report found that didn’t seem to be the case in 2021.)

“Many people become more active and energetic in the spring, and if they have long-standing depression and any underlying suicidal thoughts or ideations, it increases their risk of suicide because suicide requires action,” Torres-Mackie said. “When you’re really, really down and depressed, it’s harder to complete [suicide].”

Even without suicidal ideation, “Many people feel impulsively driven in that moment to make some changes that may not be necessary — to end a job or relationship, or to move,” Sharp said.

No, and you

Don’t dismiss depression just because it’s happening in the lighter spring months rather than winter. “It’s important to remember that everyone is different,” McCutcheon said.

“Many people blame mood swings on themselves and don’t always get treatment,” added Desan.

Anytime depressive symptoms interfere with daily life, it’s time to seek professional help, Torres-Mackie said. O light therapy What Can Help in the Winter SAD won’t help as much during the spring, but a mental health professional — especially one who provides cognitive-behavioral therapy, usually in combination with medication — can help you during the season, added Torres-Mackie.

Maintaining a balanced routine, eating and sleeping well, and finding people to talk to can also help keep you balanced, Sharp added.

Dial 988 in the US to access the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Trevor Project, which provides suicide prevention help and resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386. Find other international suicide helplines at Befrienders Worldwide (

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Here’s Why Late Winter and Early Spring Can Be So Depressing

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