A Mental Health Moment: Mental Health and April Fool’s Weather

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC, CCHt, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor  

Welcome to spring, which officially began on March 21.  Looking at how the weather in our area has been “acting” it is sometimes hard to believe that it is really spring.  Spring and summer months bring mental and physical challenges to those of us living in the Midwest and other areas that have fewer days of sunlight and more cold weather which often keeps us in the house.  If you are the type of person who enjoys being out in nature walking, gardening or bike riding, the weather often predicts when and how long that can occur due to snow and frigid weather.

The challenges come in on how to replace those activities and also how to get enough sunlight which supports our vitamin D health.  FYI, low vitamin D is linked to depression and other mental health symptoms.  The symptoms of vitamin D mimic those of depression and can lead to a misdiagnosis of a mental health disorder.   According to an article of the Cleveland Clinic (https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d–vitamin-d-deficiency

Signs and symptoms might include:

  • Fatigue.
  • Bone pain.
  • Muscle weakness, muscle aches, or muscle cramps.
  • Mood changes, like depression.

I have often found in my experience of counseling individuals starting around the month of October, first and foremost, more people begin to schedule appointments, those numbers soar through March and around the end or so of March and beginning of April, the numbers of appointments slow down significantly or people report they have decided to stop taking their medications prescribed to treat depressive type disorders.

So, what’s happening?  The weather eases up, we can get back to our “normal” routines and begin to take walks, get some fresh air, sunshine and not be sort of stuck in the house allowing our bodies and minds to suffer.

Some solutions to the factors we can and cannot control are, first, if you enjoy being outdoors exercising, find a way to exercise indoors at home or at a local fitness center, think about investing in a sunlamp which can provide some of the necessary health components of being out in the sun — the National Institute of Health (NIH) suggests just 15 minutes a day can provide enough ultra violet light radiation to keep our vitamin D3 levels up.

Ask your medical provider for a referral to get bloodwork completed to check the levels of your vitamin D.  If it is low, she will prescribe a prescription strength vitamin D for you or suggest you purchase vitamin D over the counter all depending on your levels. Please do not stop taking your prescription medications without consulting with your medical provider.  Yes, it’s great to feel much better and, yes, we can all agree that the warmth and the sunlight plays a huge role in those feelings but depending upon your medications, they still work the same in the spring and summer months but come fall you may experience the negative effects of not having the help of your medications and it becomes a cycle of getting on and off of medications.  Eat foods high in vitamin D, such as:

  • Cod liver oil.
  • Salmon
  • Swordfish
  • Tuna fish.
  • Orange juice fortified with vitamin D.
  • Dairy and plant milks fortified with vitamin D.
  • Sardines
  • Beef liver

Take a mental health moment and assess your overall health and a good time to do so is when the time change occurs each spring and fall.  Take note of your vitamin D levels and ask your medical provider where you stand before you make an appointment to be assessed for depression.  Taking a vitamin D is a lot easier and cheaper than taking a psychotropic medication for symptoms that just look like depression when it could really just be the season.  Happy spring everyone and remember….Get Your Mind Right…and everything else will fall into place.

Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Provide feedback or reach out at graham.bernadette@gmail.com  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929  (Appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606 www.bjgrahamcounseling.com  Available for team building, employee empowerment in motivation and better understanding mental health in the work place.  Accepting new client ages 13 and older.