Why bipolar episodes tend to rise in the spring

Mar 27, 2023, 8:11 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2023, 7:43 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The change of seasons can be really hard for people who struggle with their mental health. Winter months can lead to more depression, and the shift to spring can lead to more bipolar episodes.

Dr. Kristin Francis, a psychiatrist at Huntsman Mental Health Institute, said bipolar disorder is when someone has episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

“Mania is a unique set of mood symptoms that is characterized by a decreased need for sleep and they still feel great,” she said.

Francis said mania can present itself through more risky behaviors, personality changes, making a lot of new goals or spending more money.

“It can be really hard. You don’t often recognize it. You feel really good, especially if you just came off feeling depressed in the winter,” Francis said.

Celeste Gibson said she can attest to that; she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 15 and said the change of seasons leads to more manic episodes for her.

“I always say April and May are the worst months of my life,” Gibson said. “That’s because I’m so erratic and not clear-headed at all.”

Through the years, she said she has learned to recognize when she feels a manic episode coming.

“Definitely my body tells me, and being able to connect more with my body has helped me a lot in that aspect,” she said.

To cope, she said she does pottery, plays with her dogs, and tries to get more sleep.

She recommended others find time to prioritize their mental health.

“It’s very easy to over-pour your cup and give it all away, and that leaves you with nothing,” she said. “You need something for you, so you feel good waking up in the morning.”

She said the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder made her nervous to tell people about her diagnosis. But she never let it hold her back from following her dreams of owning her own massage business and hopes others help end the stigma as well.

“Now I am totally fine to tell people. I think they see me in a different light; they think, wow, she owns a business, she’s running things,” Gibson said. “You just have to be able to cope and be better with it.”

Francis said if you think you are having a manic episode to contact your medical provider immediately.

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Why bipolar episodes tend to rise in the spring