Breaking SAD – Springwatch

This is an epilogue to an earlier post on Seasonal Affective Disorder and my tendency to curdle into depression at the times when the clocks change. Not just at the end of October, as you’d expect when the days are shortening in the northern hemisphere; it happens at the end of March too. I am reasonably sure that my downward cycle is triggered by the change in diurnal pattern. But others too have this tendency, and for some it can be extremely serious, to the extent of committing suicide.

Helen Dunmore wrote in The Siege: “But spring hurts. If spring can come, if things can be different, how can you bear what your existence has been?” To put it another way… Things feel bad. Spring comes, the days get longer and the weather improves. But things still feel bad. So the feeling of badness is not just because it’s winter. The feeling of badness is yours.

One possibility is that suicidal thoughts arise from greater interaction. “During the winter, many people go into semihibernation: They work less, see fewer people, and are exposed to less frustration and conflict.”

Alternatively, the Easter holidays arrive. People go away to sunnier/snowier/more exotic climes. Then they post their photos (carefully-curated to show the best aspects) on Facebook and Instagram. Michelle Riba, MD, professor and associate director of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Depression Center, says: “seeing cheery people all around you is a constant reminder that others are having a good time when you aren’t… You wish well for everybody but sometimes you can experience jealousy and envy when you see this, especially if you happen to be struggling with challenges in your own life…”

Meanwhile, as Harvard professor of psychology Matthew Nock wrote in the Washington Post: “sunlight could boost energy and motivation, thus giving people who are depressed the ability to take action and make a suicide attempt.”

So please be aware. Watch you for yourselves and others. If you are thinking this way, please talk to the Samaritans. They are there to help and waiting for your call on 116 123.

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