As we approach the fall and winter seasons, some people will experience mood changes. Seasonal change can trigger depression, anxiety, and irritability for some individuals. In the fall, the days are shorter and darker, which can lead to mood shifts. As the weather gets colder, we tend to hibernate and be less active. This can sometimes cause vitamin deficiencies and inflammation.
Many of my patients will come to me concerned that they have bipolar disorder due to seasonal mood shifts. Sometimes, they will fall down the Google rabbit hole. Bipolar disorder requires a psychiatric work up and is not only associated with seasonal change. Now, seasonal changes can impact someone who is already diagnosed with depression or bipolar disorder, but it usually doesn’t work the other way around.
In these days of Covid 19, we are preparing for a more isolated winter. Its important to anticipate possible changes in mood due to loneliness and uncertainty. I’m encouraging my patients to get their vitamin D levels checked and stock up on anti-inflammatory foods and recipes. Vitamin D levels should be checked yearly since it regulates inflammation and many people are susceptible to low levels due to genetics and lack of UV exposure.
It’s also a good idea to track your mood cycles with a daily mood tracker. Many times, we are unaware that mood shifts can be due to menstrual cycles, poor sleep habits, or changes in diet. Its easy to forget day to day changes unless you are keeping track. One of the best things we can do is collect data on ourselves, especially during seasonal changes.