How to Tackle Seasonal Triggers

Seasonal changes can be tough for people with mental health disorders. Summer days with warm temperatures and long hours of daylight can have an intensifying impact on manic episodes in bipolar disorder. 

People with bipolar disorder may be affected by seasonal changes in multiple different ways. A 2015 study found that most admissions for mania happened in the spring, summer, and midwinter months, bipolar-related depression admissions were most likely in the spring and autumn months, and people were more likely to be admitted to the hospital for mixed features in late spring and winter. 

It helps significantly to be prepared for these seasonal changes instead of being surprised by them. It may be a good idea to seek professional help before symptoms become overwhelming. One way to prepare for possible seasonal symptoms is by joining an intensive outpatient program such as Colorado Recovery.  

“Seasonal patterns in hospitalizations have been observed in various psychiatric disorders,” wrote Hinterbuchinger, König, et al. in a 2020 study on seasonality in schizophrenia. 

“Our study shows that schizophrenia-related hospitalizations follow a seasonal pattern in both men and women. The distribution of peaks might be influenced by photoperiod changes which trigger worsening of symptoms and lead to exacerbations in schizophrenia.”

Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is a well-established mood disorder that is listed as a subtype of major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It is characterized by depressive symptoms that occur typically in the fall or winter with full remission at other times. 

Anxiety, too, can get worse in the fall and winter. In a 2019 article for Healthline, Cathy Cassata explained that autumn anxiety is an annual increase in anxiety some people begin to feel during the fall months. “Experts say some causes of this anxiety may be due to beginning a new school year, the looming stress of the holiday season, or possible regret from not having achieved desired goals over the summer.”

In order to tackle any oncoming seasonal symptoms, it is first of all important to be mindful of triggers and symptoms and not just ignore them. Once people with mental health issues realize that their symptoms are worsening, they can utilize acquired coping skills, such as exercise, dietary changes, or reframing their outlook. Or get a therapeutic refresher on how to handle such triggers and symptoms. 

Colorado Recovery is offering the outpatient program component of its signature continuum of care and making it available to all patients, accepting directly at the outpatient level individuals who may be ready to begin their recovery at that level, patients who need a recovery booster, or for those stepping down from another program. Community integration and social engagement continue to be at the heart of the approach, setting the course for a life of purpose and connection.

“We are quite flexible depending on where the person is,” says Peggy Caspari, MA, LPC, RN, Colorado Recovery’s executive director. “This flexibility is really empowering clients which is our core philosophy. We want to do what’s in their best interest and meet them where they are in their recovery.”  

Clients may join the program at the IOP level because it’s the best fit for their needs, and it all starts with a knowledgeable and welcoming admissions department. “The team at Colorado Recovery treats every client as if they were their next of kin, with respect, compassion, and optimism,” says admissions coordinator Julie Owen, MA.

If you have questions about our recovery model or our services to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and similar mental illnesses, call us at 720-218-4068 to discuss treatment options for you or the person you would like to help.