By Rick Charmoli
Take a deep breath and a sigh of relief. Today, winter officially ends.
While yesterday, snow fell from the skies one last time as winter said good-bye, a corner has been turned and not long from now, birds will be singing and flowers will be blooming. Believe it or not, spring has arrived.
Nevertheless, some people are not as happy as they should be. In fact, some adults and children may be having a hard time.
During this transition time of year, mental health professionals have noticed a trend over the last few years. Although that trend includes an increase in the number of clients seeking help, it is uncertain why it occurs.
Whether it takes the form of outbursts, yelling, screaming in children or clinical depression in adults, spring is not always a happy time.
TOUGH TIMES FOR KIDS
Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Child and Family Therapist Karen Hatley has noticed a trend the past couple of years.
Although Hatley has worked with special needs children over the last four or five years, April has been a busy month for her. Whether it is children dealing with ADHA or another special need, Hatley said April usually means more bad behavior and outbursts.
“I have seen this in Grayling, Traverse City and Cadillac. It seems about April I can expect my phone to start ringing,” she said. “I also see an increase in intakes or referrals. I go from having one intake a week to having three or four a week.”
Hatley said this time of year patience wears thin for both adults and children, especially in the school setting. Hatley also said parents and teachers work hard to keep children stable, but children are starting to get tired and are testing the waters.
Hatley also said while there is no definitive answer as to why these students as well as others get antsy this time of year, there are things that can be done to help defuse a situation.
“I really try to hold them responsible and accountable for their actions. Try to come up with different ways they could have dealt with the situation,” she said. “Get the adults in their lives to be more positive and focus on strengths and ignore the attention-seeking behavior.”
PEOPLE IN CRISIS
Deborah Bauman has been with Northern Lakes Community Mental Health for more than two years as a outpatient therapist.
During that time, she has noticed that once spring comes, more people seem to be in crisis. Most of the time, it is people who are dealing with depression.
“I can’t really tell if it is cabin fever or the need to get out, but it does seem to have a cycle to it. The numbers pick up in March and April and then they level out. They pick up again in fall, headed into winter,” she said.
Although it would seem more logical to have depression subside once warmer temperatures hit and the snow melts, Bauman said that is not the case.
While things like Seasonal Affective Disorder have become more prevalent during the winter months, Bauman said mood disorders also have a seasonal component, as well.
“I think people are bouncing off the walls after being cooped up all winter. They go to work in the dark and come home in the dark,” she said.
When it comes seeking help, Bauman said not everyone will need to see a therapist or take medicines to start feeling better. In fact, she said, using a little common sense will go a long way toward feeling better.
“Do things that make you feel good. Begin with exercise, eating a good balanced diet, getting enough sleep, and having a normal schedule,” she said. “That is not rocket science, but it definitely does help.”
Spring has sprung
• In children ages 5 to 17, Northern Lakes Community Mental Health Child and Family therapist Karen Hatley said it is not uncommon to see outbursts this time of year, especially in children with special needs.
• Outbursts could be refusal to do school work, yelling and screaming, walking out of the classroom, and potentially throwing desks and chairs at teachers.
• While some adults will lecture on why they should not do those things, Hatley said it is important to not give them an excuse to argue more.
• Instead of lecturing, Hatley said, it is important to hold them responsible for their actions and come up with different ways they could have dealt with the situation. It is also important to focus on strengths and the positive as well as ignore attention-seeking behaviors.
• For adults also, the spring can be a trying time, according to Northern Lakes Community Mental Health outpatient therapist Deborah Bauman.
• The best ways to combat a hangover from the winter is to follow several common steps including exercising more, eating well, getting enough sleep and developing a normal schedule.
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