Can Mercury Retrograde Cause Depression? Here's Why You Might Be Feeling Sadder Than Usual

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Astrologers and Instagram mystics alike have been in a tizzy over the fact that Mercury is currently in retrograde, an astrological phenomenon that reportedly causes everything and anything that has to do with communication, technology, or travel to go completely awry. While some astrologers are warning that the event will wreak havoc on your emotional life, other people are wondering if Mercury retrograde could possibly cause depression or anxiety, even indirectly. However, this is not even remotely true. There’s absolutely no credible science to back up the claims that the planets are messing with your day-to-day life or emotional well-being. There are plenty of reasons you might be feeling sadder than usual during this time of year — but none of them have to do with our solar system's smallest planet.

What exactly does it mean when people say the first planet from the sun is in “retrograde” anyways? According to Live Science author Taylor Kubota, “the term ‘retrograde’ in this instance refers to a perceived reversal in the standard west-to-east movement of Mercury through the stars. While some objects in space do experience true retrograde motion, Mercury's backtracking is an issue of perspective.” So, while it may appear that Mercury is reversing its course, the apparent change is really just an optical illusion caused by our perspective on Earth. The astrological event is definitely not behind your woes and worries, but here’s are some potential reasons why you may be feeling extra emotional during Mercury retrograde.

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1You are "psyching" yourself out

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There's a lot of talking about gloom and doom whenever Mercury goes back into retrograde, but if you're worrying about the potential effect it may have on your life, it may be doing more harm than good. Negative thinking has actually been proven to rewire your brain pathways, and literally makes your brain more pessimistic. So, ruminating about all the things that could possibly go wrong this time of year is almost guaranteed to make you more depressed. The Mercury retrograde may not have a real affect on your mood, but your pessimistic outlook might.

2You actually have seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is "a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer," according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Statistics published in the American Family Physician estimated 4 to 6 percent of people have SAD, while another 10 to 20 percent have a mild case of the winter depression. If Mercury retrograde supposedly affects you, but only during the winter months, there's a good chance you actually just have this common mental health disorder, and you should talk to your doctor about a possible treatment plan.

3You're stressing over finals or work deadlines

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Holiday break means you'll have some time to kick back and relax before the new year, but college has been proven to make people more stressed. With most semesters ending early this month, it's way more likely you're extra emotional due to a final paper, rather than space. If your college days are behind you, the same thing goes for the crush of work that can come right before a holiday break or a well-deserved vacation — it could make you more stressed and disorganized — inadvertently causing the communication mishaps some people attribute to Mercury.

4You're stressing over seeing your family during the holidays

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Though holidays may be a reprieve from the stressors of work and school, many people experience stress related to visiting with family. Anticipating any familial drama that could happen in the upcoming weeks may make your mood plummet, or cause anxiety — Mercury retrograde has nothing to do with it.

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5Your finances are also stressful

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The holiday season is not only stressful because of family visits, but also because of money. A 2015 survey revealed 35 percent of people identified finances as a primary stressor during this time of year. Between buying presents, and missing any work days due to the holidays, trying to balance your budget throughout December can induce anxiety, whether Mercury is retrograde or direct.

6You're lacking Vitamin D

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Vitamin D is essential to strong bones, good health, and your overall well-being. It is created naturally by your body when you are soaking up the sun, but many people don't get enough of the important vitamin during the long, winter nights. Vitamin D deficiencies are super common and have been linked to depression, so it's possible your woes are actually caused by the lack of sunlight. Consider taking a supplement with Vitamin D in it, or consulting with your GP about your treatment options.

7You could have an adjustment disorder

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An adjustment disorder (aka, situational depression) is a mental health condition that signifies higher-than-average levels of anxiety, depression, and stress during big life changes and events. If Mercury retrograde apparently messes with you frequently, it may be time to dig a little deeper, and address your recurring thought patterns or behaviors related to this time. Chances are, you're just human, and you don't always have the right coping skills to deal with change — which is abundant during the holidays.

Mercury retrograde is not the cause of your depression, but there are plenty of stressors during the holiday season that can make you more depressed, disorganized, and less communicative. A planet does not have the power to control your life, But, you can empower yourself with a little bit of awareness, and survive both Mercury retrograde and this holiday season.