Fall Brings More Than Just a Change in Colors

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For some, autumn can mean beautiful leaves and fresh, crisp air; for others, it can spell the sad ending of the warm glow of summer. For those of us with a bipolar diagnosis, fall can be the season of extreme moods.


Changes all around us

Change is palpable as summer fades into fall—flowers and vegetables are dying, the days are getting shorter, and the weather is turning cooler. Despite the beauty in leaves changing to a glorious hue, it’s still the end of a sunny, warm season, and a transition into something cooler and darker. This can mean varying extremes, either manic or depressive.

The autumn blues

The autumn blues has been described as different than a full-blown depression; rather, it is an “absence of energy” that had been existent during the warm days of summer. And, for some, the symptoms arrive as more physical than mental. “I go through it every single year,” says Mel. “I’m just plain tired, very disorganized, and can’t seem to do much of anything.”

The fall revival

For some individuals, autumn’s change from hot, humid weather to cooler days can mean more energy and a chance to get outside and be more active. “In the fall, as the weather starts to feel better, I get excited and feel like I can get a lot more done,” says Marva.

The start of something new

Fall is a time when summer vacations end and our work schedules get a lot busier, which can be a recipe for anxiety. For parents who have bipolar, getting their children ready for the fall and the back-to-school season can be a challenge––in some cases, it can be even more than that. The stress may be enough to trigger an episode.

The circadian clock ticks

Research has shown that the brain uses circadian rhythms and the length of the day to synchronize with the various seasons. Since these rhythms also control our sleep and wake cycles, it’s only natural that when the light begins to change and the days are either shorter or longer, our sleeping patterns change as well.

Having a plan

While we can’t change the seasons, we can predict their arrival and plan for how we will prevent either a hypomania episode or a depressive one—depending on which extreme we are prone to. As summer winds down and cooler days are on the horizon, special care should be given to healthy eating, practicing good sleep hygiene, and keeping stress levels down.


More on bipolar disorder and the seasons changing:
Ask the Doctor: Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Dread of Winter’s Depression
Bipolar Disorder and Autumn: Getting through My Favorite and Worst Season
Bipolar Disorder and Feeling “Drained” as Fall Begins

15 Comments
  1. I like this article. Thanks.
    I am surprised it doesn’t mention SAD as this is the time of year daylight hours shrink and I get out my SAD treatment light.
    I would have liked to see a link to an article about SAD and Bipolar.

  2. Thank you for this! ❤️

  3. Thanks for addressing this issue. Only in the last few years have I connected the dots between late summer/early fall, and my worst episodes. I’m still trying to figure out what the triggers are, but at least I recognize it now, and can somewhat prepare.

    In August and September, I experience mania, and somewhere in September (like about now), I start the slide toward normal(?), but by the end of October, I’ve passed my normal and slide right into depression. Here is the thing; I really love Fall. It’s my favorite time of year, but I’m always in a funk before it’s over, and I hate that. What can I do?

  4. I’m already affected. Fall hasn’t even really begun and we are still having very hot days where I live. But it is getting dark earlier and every once in a while the air feels different…..almost cool. I haven’t been using my cpap due to seasonal allergies making me feel stopped up. I’m staying up way, way, way too late. And I had that thought yesterday that is so definitive of hypomanic for me: “if I just didn’t have to sleep I could get so much more done. If I don’t sleep too much maybe I can keep this feeling going. It feels so good to feel good.” In addition to fall I have a thyroid condition that has finally been detected and is being treated. After years of fatigue I am finally feeling physical energy. So I’m not sure how much of this is hypomanic and how much is thyroid. Maybe they play on each other. I’m very grateful for my cracker jack team of carers. I have a psychiatrist I’ve been with for 15 years and she knows me inside and out. My primary care works well with psych when requested, I have a friend at the bank who helps me organize my paycheck and pay the bills on time and I’m getting debts paid off. I have a very kind spiritual director and a wonderful pastor. I have a therapist ivebeen with for 4 years and shes fantasric. And I know all these people were Sent to me from above. So the thing to do is report in about the hypomania even though I really want to just ride the wave.

  5. As it is said we can’t change the seasonal Coming /going cycle. Therefore change comes from within fall offers new clothes which could be exciting choosing scarves and jackets Fall offers a marshmallow roasting kind of evening Fall offers a time to be around the fireplace Fall offers different kinds of fun I try to be optimistic about most everything and It helps the roller coaster of emotions optimism fitting myself into the situation !

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