Bipolar Disorder and Changing Seasons

Marcia Purse Health Guide
  • I used to think I had Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) along with my bipolar disorder until I looked up the actual criteria for a diagnosis of SAD. They are:

    • Depressive episodes begin and end at specific times of year for at least two years;

    • There are no depressive episodes at other times of year; and

    • You have had more seasonal depressive episodes than non-seasonal in your lifetime.

    I often have fall and winter depressions, but I have them at other times as well, and those seasonal episodes end at different times - sometimes as early as January, to as late as May. Then, too, I have a lot of negative associations with Christmas that affect my attitude toward winter - a number of past family fights, the death of my fiance on December 17th, my mother's death on the 19th. And I get all tensed up just thinking about buying Christmas gifts.

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    Now as autumn begins (in the Northern Hemisphere, anyway), I'm having trouble sleeping. Some nights it feels as if my meds kick in right away; other nights it's like I haven't taken them at all. One night, wide awake, I sat up till almost 3 a.m. reading before I felt sleepy, even though I had taken my sedating night meds four hours earlier. This morning I woke up with that "I'm ready to get up" feeling three hours early.


    It's as if my brain is fighting the fact that there are fewer hours of daylight. If that's the case, I hope it settles down soon.

Published On: September 22, 2011