Feeling stressed this fall? You might have autumn anxiety

Along with pumpkin spice lattes, apple cider and (hopefully) cooler weather, some people also ring in fall by coming down with a case of autumn anxiety.

Autumn anxiety is the tendency for people to suffer from anxiety and low mood during the autumn months. It’s similar to seasonal affective disorder(SAD), or the “winter blues,” but, unlike SAD, according to doctors there often isn’t an obvious external trigger.

“With the days slowly getting shorter, serotonin levels start dropping,” said Katy Hopkins, Ph.D., psychologist with Norton Children’s Medical Group . “Serotonin impacts mood, appetite and sleep, all of which can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety.”

According to doctors, other factors also may contribute to the problem, including still settling into the school year as well as anticipating the stress of the upcoming holiday season.

“There’s lots going on in the fall, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed,” Dr. Hopkins said.

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Symptoms of autumn anxiety

Many people don’t realize anxiety during autumn is common and may not recognize it. However, if it occurs every year, the pattern will become obvious. Symptoms include:

  • Depression or drop in mood
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Increased sleepiness
  • Lack of interest in favorite activities

Avoiding autumn anxiety

If you believe you or your child suffers from autumn anxiety, there are steps that may provide relief, including:

  • Getting more exposure to sunlight, or purchasing a light box
  • Exercising or becoming active at least 30 minutes every day
  • Seeking out things you enjoy about the fall season or trying new activities
  • Talking to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician