What is Autumn Anxiety?
Anxiety is a type of mental health disorder that affects millions of people, from generalized anxiety disorder to panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Different people get anxiety for many different reasons, year-round. However, there is one type of anxiety that mental health professionals are seeing more often, which is autumn anxiety that starts around the fall season.
What is Autumn Anxiety?
A therapist in Wales known as Ginny Scully has named it Autumn Anxiety, after seeing countless patients experiencing heightened anxiety symptoms between the end of summer and beginning of fall. It is very closely linked to seasonal affective disorder (SAD), though is more about anxiety, and less about depression.
Fall or Autumn Anxiety VS Seasonal Affective Disorder
While they are not the exact same thing, there are some similarities between SAD and anxiety you experience in the fall. First of all, the main difference is that SAD is usually more about depression in the fall and winter seasons, as opposed to anxiety.
There are some things that are often similar between autumn anxiety and seasonal affective disorder:
- The time of year these occur. While you can get SAD at any time of year when the seasons change, it is much more common in the fall and winter when weather gets colder and there are less sunny days. The same is said for autumn anxiety, which is a type of anxiety that many people experience as summer turns into fall.
- Your signs and symptoms. Many symptoms between anxiety in the fall and depression you experience this season are similar. This might include being lethargic and tired, isolating yourself, losing interest in your favorite activities, experiencing signs of panic attacks like a racing heartbeat and tunnel vision, and changes in your mood like agitation or irritability.
- How it can affect your life. Both autumn anxiety and SAD can affect your life and reduce your quality of life. Suddenly, summer is over and you no longer want to see friends, you spend more time alone indoors, and you have a hard time adjusting to the changes in your schedule. While this can be completely normal, you should still seek professional help if you feel out of control with your symptoms.
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Who is Prone to Autumn Anxiety?
Some people who may be more likely to suffer from autumn anxiety are those "highly sensitive persons", as detailed by Elaine Aron, PhD. She believes that people who are extremely sensitive may take the sudden changes of seasons, habits, and daily routines much harder than other people, which is why it leads to them experiencing worsened anxiety.
If you are a highly sensitive person who also has generalized anxiety disorder, it is really important that you are aware of this and prepare before fall begins.
Common Signs You Have Anxiety in the Fall
If you have noticed that your anxiety always peaks near the beginning of the fall season, you are not alone. This is sometimes called seasonal anxiety or autumn anxiety, as it happens around this season. Like all forms of anxiety, it is not caused by any one thing. Some people get anxiety this time of year due to the weather changing, others experience it because their routine and schedule changes so drastically.
It helps to understand the signs and symptoms of seasonal anxiety, so that you can start working on natural remedies as soon as possible.
Physical Signs of Autumn Anxiety
The first signs you will probably notice when it comes to anxiety are the physical signs. These tend to occur before any emotional or behavioral signs, even if you don’t realize it is your anxiety.
Here are some symptoms that might mean you have anxiety:
You may start feeling very restless, without understanding why. If you can’t sit still or focus, this could be a sign of anxiety.
Fatigue is a very common sign of anxiety, where you feel physically drained and like you can barely get anything done without needing a nap.
Dizziness has many causes, but when accompanying these other symptoms, it could be from your anxiety.
- Panic attack symptoms
Many people experience a panic attack or symptoms related to panic, such as tunnel vision, a racing heartbeat, and uncontrollable sweating.
Emotional and Behavioral Signs
The next series of symptoms experienced when you have anxiety are the emotional, mental, and behavioral signs. Some people only notice these, while others experience them along with the physical signs. Either way, it is important to understand that they could be signaling you to your anxiety.
- Trouble Focusing
Focus and concentration is often lacking when you struggle with anxiety. If you notice you can’t focus more than a few minutes or concentrate on anything without your mind wandering, it might be from your anxiety.
- Excessive Worrying
Everybody worries, but people with anxiety tend to obsess about worries and fears. Your anxiety convinces you of things that aren’t actually true, where one very small thing could mean disastrous consequences.
- Agitation and Mood Swings
You might also notice you are irritable or easily agitated, without any other reason. You know it’s not PMS, stress, or another cause, so it has to be from your anxiety.
- Sudden Nervousness
This is often situational, where you are fine one minute, then when you get into a certain situation, suddenly you are very nervous and almost panicked.
What You Can Do About Autumn Anxiety
Autumn anxiety can mean some changes in your mental health in the fall season, but it doesn’t have to define you. You can try using a light therapy box if it is cold and gloomy where you live, as well as start taking a vitamin D supplement. Anxiety-relieving activities like meditation, breathing exercises, physical exercise, and finding activities you enjoy can also help tremendously.