When the days become shorter and the weather becomes chillier, many people can find themselves with a slight case of the winter blues, as the change in seasons can indeed affect mental health. However, if you notice this depression is recurring every year, you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka, SAD). According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder 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.” Basically, people with SAD experience depression, but it ebbs and flows along with seasons.
SAD is an extremely important mental health issue, but many people don’t realize the folks with other mental illnesses can also experience an influx of symptoms with the change of seasons. A 2013 study that examined Google searches on mental health suggests all (yes, all) mental illnesses tend to get worse during the colder months — likely because people are feeling the effects much more. While mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, or Bipolar disorder are a year-round challenge, winter weather can make coping with mental illness with more difficult. Colder weather can affect all kinds of mental illness in these scary ways below.