Season Affective Disorder

Weather can have a significant impact on our daily lives, from affecting our moods to influencing our behavior. For people struggling with addiction and mental health issues, changes in weather can be especially challenging.

Amazingly there can be a thousand words for weather and a myriad of feelings and expressions that can be used to describe how we react to and feel weather. This is captured magnificently in the June 2022, ArtAngel’s installation, A Thousand Words for Weather, opened at London’s Senate House Library.

Created by author Jessica J. Lee and sound artist Claudia Molitor, the piece invites listeners to consider the ways in which our experiences of weather and climate change–are at once intimate, shared, yet untranslatable. Lee began by working with a group of UK-based poets and translators in English, Mandarin, Bengali, Urdu, German, Turkish, French, Spanish, Polish, and Arabic, each of whom contributed ten weather words and their definitions. Each word was then translated into the other languages, forming a thousand-word “dictionary” of the weather. Molitor then translated this dictionary into a sonic landscape, whose playback is controlled by real-time weather data from the UK Metropolitan Office.

The installation is housed over three floors of the art deco library in Central London: in echoing stairwells, forgotten trolley storage rooms amid stacks of books, by windows looking over the city skyline, and in the grand open space of the periodicals room…” The Daily Good, March 28, 2023.

Louise and Snowboard

Recently, I experienced a white out where trees glistened with snow, and while I could not travel and my airplane was canceled, my spirts soared high because I was with friends and could make snow angels in the snow. However, I was uptight and scared when I drove through a thunderous southern California rain storm on my own.

In this article, we’ll explore how weather impacts our well being, especially addiction and mental health, with a particular focus on seasonal affective disorder (SAD). We’ll also provide tips on how to diagnose and cope with these conditions and offer a few suggestions for spring cleaning and planting seeds for a healthy life.

How Weather Affects Mental Health

Weather can have a significant impact on mental health, particularly for those with conditions such as depression and anxiety. For example, people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) experience symptoms of depression during the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight. This is thought to be caused by a disruption in the body’s circadian rhythm, which regulates sleep and wake cycles, as well as the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood.

Changes in weather can also trigger anxiety and panic attacks. For example, people who suffer from thunderstorm phobia may experience intense fear and panic during storms, even if they are not in any danger. Similarly, people who suffer from agoraphobia, a fear of open or crowded spaces, may experience symptoms during hot, humid weather, when the air can feel heavy and suffocating.

How Weather Affects Addiction

Weather can also have an impact on addiction, particularly for people who struggle with alcohol or drug abuse. For example, people who suffer from alcoholism may be more likely to drink during the winter months, when the weather is cold and gloomy, and there are fewer social events to attend. Similarly, people who struggle with drug addiction may be more likely to relapse during times of stress or anxiety, which can be triggered by changes in weather.

In addition, changes in weather can also affect the availability of drugs and alcohol. For example, during the winter months, snowstorms can make it difficult for people to access treatment facilities or attend support group meetings. Similarly, during heatwaves, people may be more likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as drinking or using drugs, as a way to cope with the discomfort.

Diagnosing and Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression during the fall and winter months, you may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Some common symptoms of SAD include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is important to seek professional help. Your doctor or mental health professional can help diagnose SAD and recommend appropriate treatment, which may include light therapy, medication, or talk therapy.

In addition to seeking professional help, there are also several things you can do to cope with SAD and other seasonal changes. For example, getting outside and engaging in physical activity can help boost your mood and increase your energy levels. Similarly, practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation or deep breathing, can help reduce stress and anxiety. Finally, taking care of your physical health by eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol can help you feel better overall.

Spring Cleaning and Planting Seeds for a Healthy Life

As the weather begins to warm up and the days get longer, it’s a good time to focus on spring cleaning and planting seeds for a healthy life. Some things you can do to take care of your mental and physical health during the spring include:

  1. Declutter Your Space: Spring is a great time to declutter your living space and get rid of anything that no longer serves you. A clean and organized space can help reduce stress and anxiety and make it easier to focus on the things that matter.
  2. Get Outside: As the weather gets warmer, it’s important to spend time outside and enjoy the sunshine. Physical activity, such as hiking or biking, can help boost your mood and increase your energy levels.
  3. Plant a Garden: Planting a garden can be a great way to improve your mental health and well-being. Gardening can help reduce stress and anxiety, and it can also provide a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
  4. Focus on Self-Care: Spring is a good time to focus on self-care and taking care of your physical and mental health. This can include eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and practicing relaxation techniques.

Get Help From All About Interventions

Weather can have a significant impact on addiction and mental health, particularly for people who struggle with conditions such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s important to seek professional help if you are experiencing symptoms of SAD or other mental health issues. In addition, practicing self-care and focusing on physical and mental health can help improve your overall well-being.

If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health or substance abuse, Dr. Louise Stanger and All About Interventions can help. Our team is experienced in providing bespoke care and support to families dealing with seasonal addictions and other related mental health issues. Contact us today at 619.507.1699 or connect via our website. We can help you discover ways to thrive so that the sun shines within you and the tears plant new ways of being. Don’t hesitate to contact us today.