- On March 10, 2022
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- seasonal depression
By Chris Bassett, MA, LMFT:
March is the month that signals Spring is coming. This year, Spring begins on March 20th, and it’s an important season for us to keep in mind in terms of mental health. Suicide rates are actually highest in April, May and June, contrary to our typical beliefs about the winter time blues. Why would the spring months be so hard on mental health?
Adam Kaplin, a Johns Hopkins psychiatrist, tells us in this article that inflammation from various sources, including allergic reactions, can cause or worsen depression. About 50 million Americans deal with seasonal allergies, which puts them at a higher risk for depression.
Inflammation can occur for many reasons: multiple sclerosis, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and more. Even post-Covid inflammation can cause significant depression. Some in the mental health world would say that those who spent their winter feeling depressed may still find themselves depressed when spring comes, but with enough energy and motivation to take their own life. The contrast of seeing the flowers and trees bud and bloom when the world comes back to life versus their own dark and sad feelings can exacerbate the depression. Still, as part of Larimer County’s Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Steering Committee, we are thankful to see local suicides decreasing. We hope that is due in part, to many people in our local community
being trained to help prevent deaths by suicide.
The encouraging thing to know is that suicide is preventable! Those who have taken QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) training know that suicide is everybody’s business.
Lighthouse offers QPR trainings to all faith communities and is free to churches. If your church is interested, please give us a call to talk about how we can arrange this life saving training for people at your church. It’s a 90 minute training for people in the community. Those who attend can feel equipped to have a caring conversation with someone who exhibits warning signs for suicide. QPR provides helpful language and resources for such an important conversation that can help you save a life! It’s like CPR, but for mental health!
As you may know, there is a significant gut-brain connection. According to Harvard Health, when children tell us that they have a stomachache, and we can tell that they’re worried or upset, their body is sending a message. Anxiety and depression can cause gut issues, and in a reciprocal fashion, gut issues can also cause anxiety and depression. If there are certain foods that make your body feel terrible, pay attention to what your body is telling you. Sugars and too much alcohol cause inflammation in everyone’s bodies. For some people, wheat, gluten, dairy or lactose can cause inflammation. And as you may have guessed, a lack of
good restful sleep will impact your mental health as well.
So what changes can you make to fight against depression and anxiety?
Listen to your body. God gave you the ability to recognize your body’s signals.
- Get more Sleep: When you’re tired, get more rest. Try to go to sleep knowing that the Lord will keep watch over you while you sleep.
- Keep a Food Log: If your body is not tolerating a certain kind of food, you may want to log what you’re noticing to see if you can find patterns. Nutritionists are particularly helpful with these kinds of situations.
- Pray and Spend Time With God: When your thoughts and feelings lack peace, make time to pray. Bringing your concerns before the Lord will lighten your load.
- Exercise: Exercising is so good for your body, and even a 15-30 minute brisk walk around the block will help you cope with the stressors you’re dealing with.
If the load has gotten too heavy to carry alone, Lighthouse has a great team of counselors here to help. Give our office a call or go to our website to learn more about starting counseling for you or someone you love.
Sometimes, things can feel overwhelming. May this song be a reminder to place our hope in the one, sure foundation: Jesus Christ.