Bipolar Disorder: Why Do I Feel More Depressed in the Fall?

Autumn’s crisp air and brightly colored foliage bring to mind family gatherings, cozy evenings by the fireplace, and the advent of the holiday season. But some people find themselves feeling down when summer gives way to fall and days shorten.

If your mood changes when fall comes around, you’re not alone. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a subtype of depression that causes lowered mood in the fall and winter months. People who have existing mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, are more vulnerable to its effects.

Depression in Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can make you feel as if you’re on an emotional rollercoaster. The highs and lows that everyone feels sometime during their lives are more pronounced in bipolar disorder. Depression is the low phase of bipolar disorder. During depressive phases, people experience low mood, lack of energy, and sometimes irritation and despair.

Depressive episodes can range from moderate to extreme, disrupting many aspects of a person’s life and putting a strain on work and personal relationships. Depressive episodes typically alternate with high-energy episodes, but during the fall and winter months, depressive periods may be longer and more pronounced.

The powerful changes in seasons can affect people with bipolar disorder even more than the general population. Spring fever and winter blues can throw anyone off their game, and for anyone with existing mental health issues, seasonal changes have even more power.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Depressive Episodes

Some people may only get depressed during the fall and winter, even if they don’t have another mood disorder in general. Seasonal affective disorder is compounded in those who have bipolar disorder throughout the year.

SAD shares many of the symptoms of depression, including:

  • Feeling very sad or hopeless most of the time, often every day
  • Feeling exhausted or low energy regardless of how much sleep you get
  • Being disinterested in activities you used to enjoy
  • Being irritated or frustrated

SAD also has a few symptoms that are unique, including:

  • Sleeping even more than usual
  • Avoiding social activities
  • Overeating and craving carbohydrate-rich foods
  • Sluggishness and weight gain

Dealing With Depression in the Fall

For anyone diagnosed with bipolar disorder, any major changes in life can throw things out of balance, so it’s important to take note of how changes in the seasons affect your outlook and daily life.

There are effective treatments for bipolar disorder, which include psychological treatment or talk therapy, and medications. To be effective, all types of treatment require careful follow-up. It’s especially important in bipolar disorder to partner with your mental health specialist to manage your medications in balance with any changes in mood that may occur.

Personalized Help in Connecticut

If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder or depression and would like to know more about regulating emotions at any time of the year, please contact us at Psy-Visions. Board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Mark Stracks is experienced with all types of mood disorders and can help.

Call us today at (203) 405-1745 and get the expert help you need and deserve. If you prefer, request a consultation online. We look forward to helping you learn effective ways of managing your mood.

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