As winter comes to an end and cold dark days turn to spring showers and sunshine, many people struggle to break free from the depression they felt throughout the winter months. But you don’t have to let winter sadness turn into spring depression when you can follow a few simple tips to help get your mental health back on track.

Understanding Spring Depression

Spring depression is an exceptionally common experience. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that roughly 8.3% of all adults in the United States experience a major depressive episode any given year.

Depression associated with the seasons often runs contrary to the concept of spring depression. Seasonal depression typically follows a pattern of symptoms of depression appearing during the fall and lasting through the winter, with the majority of symptoms beginning to resolve in spring and throughout the summer.

However, it is well known in academic literature that depression can follow several different cycles. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders recognizes seasonal depression as a major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern but does not qualify that there are specific seasons where it can and cannot affect people.

If you are starting to experience the effects of diminished mood and fatigue during the spring, spring depression could be the cause.

Symptoms of Depression

Spring depression is typically a subset of major depressive disorder, which is the most common depression diagnosis in the United States today. Major depressive disorder has a host of symptoms and potential challenges, but the key criteria clinicians look for in determining a diagnosis include:

  • Experiencing chronic low mood almost every day
  • Substantially reduced pleasure or interest in enjoyable activities
  • Sudden changes in weight — either weight loss or weight gain
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Psychomotor agitation, such as unintentional movements or fidgeting
  • A sense of chronic fatigue
  • Excessive feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Trouble focusing or thinking
  • Thoughts of death or suicidal ideation

To diagnose someone with depression, mental health professionals look for the presence of at least five of these symptoms occurring within a two-week period. Further, these symptoms must cause substantial impairment or distress and not be better described by a different mental health condition.

6 Things to Do to Combat Spring Depression

As debilitating as depression can be, you can take steps to prevent yourself from developing depression, manage any depressive symptoms you may be experiencing, or recover from depression entirely.

It’s important to note that these pieces of advice don’t always work for everyone. If you are experiencing severe depressive symptoms that are starting to interfere with your daily life, it’s best to seek treatment at an evidence-based mental health facility that can provide targeted and intensive therapies to help you overcome depression.

However, for many people, the following tips may be able to help prevent the onset of depression in the first place or help regulate their mood if they start to see things going downhill.

1. Start an Exercise Routine

Exercise is one of the best preventive measures you can use to avoid spring depression. Countless studies have shown the incredible benefit regular exercise can bring for not only your physical health but your mental health as well.

If you aren’t exercising already, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to do too much all at once. Starting slowly and steadily is the best way to build a physical fitness routine, even if that just means going for a walk around the neighborhood or taking your bike out for a spring ride.

In fact, many of the mental health benefits of exercise can be experienced with just small increases in physical activity. The goal of an exercise routine for mental health isn’t necessarily to push your physical limits but to reduce the common tendency for people to engage in overly sedentary patterns of behavior.

Particularly in today’s world, where many people spend their working days behind a desk and return home to relax on the couch, just a few extra minutes of moving your body can have a dramatic impact in decreasing depressive symptoms.

Of course, if you want to push yourself a bit further in exercise, there are countless other options that can be both fun and beneficial. Some of the best spring activities you can get involved in include:

  • Group fitness classes
  • Running
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Rock climbing
  • Kayaking
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Swimming
  • Mountain biking

These activities not only provide mental health benefits but can be enjoyable and social activities that provide you with something new to look forward to each week.

2. Begin a Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness practices have quickly risen to prominence as effective mental health treatment and prevention strategies. Learning to practice mindfulness can take some time, but once you have developed the skill, it can be incredibly useful in breaking the negative thought spirals so common in spring depression.

The simplest way to start practicing mindfulness is by beginning a meditation practice. Meditation is an ancient technique used to help people hone their ability to enter a mindful state, using specific strategies to help calm the mind, connect people to the present moment, and free themselves from racing thoughts.

A simple meditation practice takes just a few simple steps:

  • Find a comfortable place to sit
  • Close your eyes
  • Focus your attention entirely on your breath to the exclusion of all else

When you feel your mind begin to drift, simply notice the thought and return to the sensation of your breath.

Try starting with five or ten-minute meditations using this simple strategy. As you keep up with your meditation practice, you may find it easier and easier to enter into a mindful state, where you are completely present in the moment and not focused on the past or future.

Once you’ve learned what the mindful state feels like and how you can tap into this source of mindfulness throughout your day, you can practice mindfulness in every aspect of your life.

When you start to ruminate on the past, mindfulness can help break you out of the spiral. If you’re more prone to worrying about the future, mindfulness can help connect you back to the present moment.

A number of talk therapy approaches have started integrating mindfulness practices into their curriculum due to these powerful effects. Among others, dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and mindfulness-based stress reduction all prioritize mindfulness as a core component of mental health treatment.

3. Restore Healthy Sleep Habits

Disruptions in sleep are often one of the first signs of developing a depressive disorder and can continue to cause distress while living with depression.

While it may seem incredibly difficult to restore your sleep quality when it has already begun to suffer, there are a few simple techniques proven to help you get more sleep, better quality sleep, and sleep more consistently.

Collectively, these practices are known as “sleep hygiene,” and there is an abundance of science supporting the effectiveness of these techniques. There are a few simple things you can do to restore your sleep hygiene and start feeling better.

First, keep a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at a consistent time each night and try to wake up at a consistent time every morning.

When setting your sleep schedule, aim for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. This is in line with the recommended amounts of sleep for most adults and ensures your sleep is as restorative as possible.

Additionally, you can reduce caffeine intake in the evening. Caffeine is a stimulant, and drinking caffeine up to ten hours before bedtime can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

Avoid stimulating activities at night. About an hour before bedtime, trade your smartphone or TV for a light book or relaxing activities to give yourself time to wind down.

Finally, optimize your bedroom for sleep. Make sure the lights are off, your curtains are blocking light from entering, and the temperature is cool.

These simple guidelines can help you get back into a regular sleep schedule, which leaves you waking up feeling your best and can prevent some of the fatigue and physical symptoms of depression.

4. Get Outside

Spring is the perfect time to get outdoors. While spring depression can often make this task feel impossible, there is an abundance of research showing that regular exposure to nature and green spaces can be critical to supporting your long-term mental health and may even reduce many of the symptoms of depression.

But perhaps the greatest benefit of the outdoors is how it synergizes with some of the tips outlined so far. Getting into nature can help restore a healthy sleep cycle, help you keep up an exercise routine, and is even a great place for practicing mindfulness.

5. Start Talk Therapy

If you’ve tried several of the tips above and haven’t found success in reducing your symptoms of depression, it might be time to see a professional.

Talk therapists have an abundance of tools and strategies to help people manage their symptoms of depression, identify the root cause of their mental health challenges, and forge new patterns of behavior that inspire recovery.

In-person or virtual therapy options can connect you with a trained mental health professional with a variety of tools to help combat depression. Some of the best therapeutic techniques in treating depression include:

These therapeutic modalities have specific strategies that have been developed for decades to help people overcome their challenges with depression, and each modality has shown to be highly effective at helping people achieve recovery.

6. Consider Medication

Psychiatric medication is another effective and simple way to help combat spring depression.

Working with a psychiatrist in medication management not only helps you get started with antidepressant medications but also provides long-term support in adjusting your medication’s dosage and timing or helping you transition to new medications if your first one doesn’t work as well as you’d hoped.

As effective as medication can be, you can get an even greater benefit and a higher likelihood of achieving recovery if you combine medication management with talk therapy and other approaches.

Start Comprehensive Mental Health Care at APN

Struggling with spring depression can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be debilitating or permanent. With so many different treatment options available to help people achieve recovery, reaching out for professional help can help you break free from depression and get back to enjoying the beautiful spring weather.

To get started with comprehensive mental health care, reach out to APN today by calling 424.644.6486 or completing our online contact form.


  • Cooney GM, Dwan K, Greig CA, Lawlor DA, Rimer J, Waugh FR, McMurdo M, Mead GE. Exercise for depression. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2013, Issue 9. Art. No.: CD004366. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004366.pub6. Accessed 15 June 2024.
  • Cuijpers, Pim, et al. “A Meta-Analysis of Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy for Adult Depression, Alone and in Comparison with Other Treatments.” The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 2013, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.
  • “Major Depression.” National Institute of Mental Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed 15 June 2024.