What is Autumn Anxiety?

As summertime winds down and autumn approaches, we are faced with longer nights, chilly days, and less sunshine. For many people, autumn is a time filled with coziness, sweaters, and pumpkin-flavored everything. The bright and vibrant colors of the autumn leaves and cool, crisp air bring a sense of change. However, this change is not always positive for everyone. Kids are headed back to school for both virtual and in-person classes and the holiday season is approaching bringing on added stress. So many of the activities we enjoy in the summer come to a halt once fall hits and it can be emotionally draining.

Autumn anxiety is similar to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) but according to doctors, there isn’t always an obvious external trigger. It was first discovered by a Welsh therapist named Ginny Scully when patient after patient started to walk through her door during the September months with similar anxious feelings. Eventually, she developed the term “autumn anxiety”.

Autumn anxiety typically only lasts a few weeks and disappears once Halloween rolls around. Symptoms of autumn anxiety include:

  • Depression and decreased mood
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest in activities

Learning about the triggers of autumn anxiety can help you tackle anxious feelings head-on.

Decreased Exposure to Sunlight 

One of the most common causes of autumn anxiety includes decreased exposure to sunlight. Sunlight supplies our bodies with vitamin D. With fewer hours of sunlight in a day, this can have an impact on a person’s body. Studies have shown that vitamin D deficiencies lead to anxiety and depression. Taking vitamin D supplements and spending time outside during daylight hours can be an excellent way to combat a vitamin D deficiency.

Seasonal Allergies

According to a study by the Journal of Affective Disorders, when a person is fighting off allergies, it has a similar effect to what a person is going through when they are depressed. Higher pollen seasons have been linked to increased anxiety and depression. Allergies attack the immune system and our bodies and create inflammation which also influences the brain. This boils down to mild depressive symptoms, sadness, feeling lethargic, and possibly increased clinical depression. If you suffer from allergies in the fall, treating them could help you treat your depression and anxiety.

Less Exercise 

Fewer hours of daylight, cooler weather, and a packed schedule are all common reasons why many individuals work out less during the autumn months. Regular exercise is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including mental health. Even if you prefer going to the gym rather than outdoor exercise it can be challenging with a changing schedule. It is important not to neglect your workout routine. Just 30 mins of exercise a day can boost your mood.

Scrolling too much on your mobile device 

Often, research has shown that scrolling through your phone or tablet can wreak havoc on an individual’s mental state by making us feel anxious. Scrolling through endless photos of joyful fall days on hayrides, apple picking, fall wedding photos may be a recipe for disaster and cause individuals to compare themselves to others on social media. It is important to recognize how you feel after you spend time on social media. If you feel like it is causing anxiety, it is important to take a break. Set aside your device for 1-2 hours daily.

Seek help if needed

If you think you are experiencing autumn anxiety, it is important to seek help at Harmony Bay Wellness. Our licensed therapists and psychiatrists can guide you through any overwhelming feelings you may have and find out what may be triggering your stress. Reach out to Harmony Bay Wellness in South Jersey for more info by calling us at 855.765.6399.

 

Sources:

“Autumn Anxiety: Why You May Feel More Stressed This Season.” Healthline, 23 Sept. 2019, www.healthline.com/health-news/autumn-anxiety. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.

“Autumn Anxiety Is Real, and Treatable | Everyday Health.” EverydayHealth.Com, www.everydayhealth.com/columns/therese-borchard-sanity-break/autumn-anxiety-is-real-treatable/. Accessed 15 Sept. 2020.