Sensitive to Light and Shorter or Longer Days? What about the Holidays?

I have never been diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder. But from most of the people I have talked to who have a mental health diagnosis, there is some fluctuation in symptoms (maybe just minor or maybe not) that follows the seasons and/or the time of the year. At least that’s what I think is so.

For me now, the most impacting seasonal symptoms occur during the shorter days of fall and winter. We are coming up on that time. I am a person who likes the daylight. When daylight is scarce, I am more inclined to have bipolar symptoms. My therapist talks about how spring/summer months are another time to experience symptoms seasonally and that this time may be more prone to mania or hypomania or mood sensitivity.

For me in the past when I was first diagnosed with bipolar 35 years ago and getting used to taking meds on a regular basis, I routinely had mini-breaks or break-throughs around the time of the seasonal changes. Once during the fall season and once during the spring season. This pattern lasted about 5 to 6 years.

More recently in the last 15 years, I have not observed the spring/summer highs to the extreme as much as the fall/winter lows oftentimes accompanied by anxiety. This was worse for me when I was in New England for college and 8 years after that. The shorter days did a number on me. I did notice when I moved back South that I did feel better in the longer days even in winter. (As a note – I did experience heightened anxiety this summer with regard to taking my daughter to college but I consider that anxiety as situational and not so much seasonal.)

This dislike for shorter days goes along with not liking the cold much. I am much more prone to keeping with my daily walk-the-dog-for-two-miles-routine if it is not freezing cold out. The regular exercise is really great for my mental health (obviously).

It could also be that winter is more difficult for me in that that’s when the holidays occur. The extra stress of being out of routine and being immersed in family matters may play a large part in my fall/winter moods and anxiety.

Do you feel your moods or behaviors are impacted by the amount of daylight in the day? Are shorter days and longer days something you watch throughout the course of the year? Are your symptoms harder to manage during the holidays and family visits and travel? Does this all feel like a bundle of triggers and symptoms that are sometimes difficult to sort out and manage?

3 thoughts on “Sensitive to Light and Shorter or Longer Days? What about the Holidays?

  1. Winters can surely be tough! Depression with the darkness and the cold, and anxiety alongside all the family/holiday stress. And this year is my first yuletide season apart from my daughter (though hopefully I can fly out to visit her soon). Wishing you all the best!

    Liked by 1 person

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