Bipolar blogger Natasha Tracy offers exclusive insight into the world of bipolar disorder.See all posts »
Is Bipolar Disorder Seasonally Affected?
One form of depression is seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In this form of depression, the hours of sunlight directly affect a person’s mood. People with SAD often experience average moods (happiness) during the summer and experience depression during the winter, particularly in locations where they get less sun and more cloudy days.
But is bipolar disorder seasonally affected?
Seasonally Affected Bipolar Disorder
Some people do experience seasonal variance in mood in bipolar disorder too. In other words, right about now, some people are experiencing a slide into depression and in the spring, people may experience a lack of depression or even hypomania or mania. Some people adjust their meds based on the seasons. Others use light boxes to increase their access to sunlight in the winter.
Seasonal Variance in Bipolar Disorder: Myth (mostly)
However, on the whole, a major study shows that bipolar disorder does not exhibit seasonal variation.
According to the 2011 study of 429 people with bipolar disorder from 12 sites across Canada, Do symptoms of bipolar disorder exhibit seasonal variation? A multisite prospective investigation, “No evidence of systematic seasonal variation in symptoms was found in the sample as a whole.”
In this study, harmonic analysis revealed unpredicted frequency of mania at June 4 and Dec. 4—clearly not in line with a SAD rhythm. Secondary analysis showed that the June/December peaks approximately fit for females and those diagnosed with bipolar type 2.
Primary analysis of depression symptoms showed no seasonal variance on the population as a whole. Secondary analysis showed that there was limited evidence showing an increase in depressive symptoms in November/December among females.
Could You Be Experiencing Seasonally Affected Bipolar Disorder?
This is not to suggest that no one with bipolar disorder experiences seasonal variance in their bipolar disorder—some people undoubtedly do, but, on the whole, it indicates that seasonal variance is not an indicator of bipolar disorder.
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