Psychiatry

Have You Been Hit With Autumn Anxiety?

I noticed a pattern in several of my Instagram posts the last few weeks: a sense of being hard on myself, feeling like I haven’t been productive enough, lacking any sense of accomplishment, feeling as if there’s no time in the day to get through my task list, etc.  Such a surge in self-criticism didn’t sit well with me, so I wanted to gain more insight and determine the trigger (as if I don’t psychoanalyze enough in my day to day life).  It wasn’t until I started noticing the anxious tone in my voice each time I told some of my patients to schedule their next appointment in 3 months (which would be around January 2017) and went on to wish them an early “Happy Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/Hannukah/Qwanzaa,” etc, that an a-ha moment occurred in my mind — Oh my goodness, it’s almost 2017!

So I started researching if there was such a phenomenon related to Autumn anxiety.  And much to my relief, I discovered that several others have experienced it and written about it as well!  I didn’t find much research on autumn anxiety in medical databases, however, my Google search engine churned out a few articles that validated my experience (isn’t validation of our own experiences/opinions ultimately what we look for anyway?):

  • Wales therapist Ginny Scully named the phenomenon “Autumn Anxiety” after observing a pattern in her clients as the summer season ended where they experienced an increase in generalized anxiety and anticipation, without really knowing what they were supposed to be anticipating.  She noted in the article that people who are more sensitive and aware of changes in their surroundings tend to experience these feelings.
  • The transition into Fall triggers a sense of loss.  Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a psychiatrist, believes the key element to consider is loss, particularly since many consider the summer season as a time for partying, relaxation, leaving work early on Fridays, and having longer summer nights to enjoy.  Therefore, once summer ends, life quickly starts to feel more stressful.
  • The days become shorter, which means less bright light exposure during the autumn season compared to summer.  Bright light has been shown to have effects that decrease anxiety.

Have any of you also experienced an increase in anxiety during the transition from summer to autumn?  Reading the information I discovered above at least validated my experience and helped me realize I wasn’t alone!

15 thoughts on “Have You Been Hit With Autumn Anxiety?

    • All is well..took a brief hiatus from blogging but now i’m back! And yes, i believe many experience winter anxiety as well due to the low light as u mentioned. hope you’re having a wonderful autumn!

      • Hi Vania, good to hear from you. 🙂 No winter anxiety here, just getting over whooping cough! I still can’t believe I caught that. On a plane! And infected my daughters. It took a while to diagnose and treat, but recovery is slow. (Cough! Cough!) Welcome to December! The Christmas lights make up for the diminishing daylight. 🙂 Take good care of yourself, Doc.

  1. Pingback: Have You Been Hit With Autumn Anxiety? — Freud & Fashion | Think Glitter 'N' Sunshine

  2. I told my psychiatrist about Autumn Anxiety yesterday and he had never heard about it! I was surprised – he seems pretty hip. He said the fall is his favorite of the entire year, LOL! I also love this time of year, but I’ve noticed a sea change in in the bipolar-themed blogosphere – this season really affects many bloggers & ups their anxiety, as well as depression. I had tons of anxiety due to my Oct. 1 deadline with my publisher, but once I met that, I felt a lot of relief.

    This was a very interesting post, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the picture. Thank you for writing about such a timely, relevant topic, and I’m so glad you’re back to blogging. 🙂

    • Thanks so much Dyane! Yes, in my practice i tend to notice an increase in cycling around this time of year. How interesting that you’ve been able to detect it in the blogosphere…social media can truly be a useful tool esp since it can validate others’ eperiences!

  3. Reblogged this on Birth of a New Brain and commented:
    Dr. Vania Manipod is an incredible psychiatrist. I’ve been following her blog Freud and Fashion for a while; it’s fascinating to read her honest insights about psychiatry and her brave willingness to share her personal challenges and insecurities. I’ve been pleading with her to open a practice in Santa Cruz in two years when my psychiatrist retires!

    This is an excellent post& definitely worth the read!

  4. I’ve been thinking about this too, I think it partially has to do with your experience and perspective of school… I often cried to my mom, not wanting to go back to school but to be home schooled because I experienced bullying from peers, friends, even teachers and didn’t want to go into the unknown of what school would be like and how I would be treated. I would panic, cry, live in fear and then be forced to go. I’d often fake or force myself sick to get out of school.

    So now even as an adult, I feel that panic and discomfort every fall. Think it’s maybe residual from bad past experience

    • Thank u for sharing, and i apologize for the late reply during my blogging hiatus. But you’re thoughts are right — oftentimes those difficult and traumatic experiences from our youth leave an imprint and can trigger us in subsequent years. Hope that your insight and awareness of your past leads to more tolerable and peaceful future fall seasons.

  5. It’s actually the opposite for me. I tend to become more lethargic and lose motivation after turning the clocks forward for spring and with longer daylight. I also tend to have more ailments like acid reflux and headaches during these cycles. I thought that maybe I just needed to adjust my circadian rhythm, but it persists until the sun sets earlier and the clocks turn back again about six months later. I am so comforted by nighttime and darkness and I find that daylight provokes anxiety. If I don’t wake up before the sun rises, my day is ruined. I seem to have SAD for the wrong season!

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