What is it? Is it real? – There’s an old song that describes “spring fever” as a feeling of befuddlement. Symptoms include daydreaming, falling in love and having the irrepressible urge to stay outside all day. Is this areal problem or just an imaginary malady?

Psychologist Jon Abramowitz says, “It depends on what you mean by ‘real.’ When the weather turns warm, people are definitely tired of being cooped up, and they get excited about the warm weather and getting to do stuff outside.”

And all that exercise may trigger the brain to secrete endorphins, pain-relieving chemicals that fill us with feelings of well-being. Endorphins chemically resemble morphine, the narcotic derived from poppies. And Abramowitz reminds us that “Exercise is just as good as antidepressants for depression.”

Researcher Thomas Koonce agrees and says that these feelings can result from getting more sunlight, and says, “It may be that spring fever is actually a resolution of the blues we get during the winter.” Variations in day length are associated with changes in levels of melatonin, a neurotransmitter involved in the regulation of sleep. Melatonin also plays a role in depression. Acccording to Koonce, “We know from studies of big populations of people that the incidence of depression goes up in the fall and winter, and we think that that’s affected mostly by decreased sunlight hours.” Winter depression, sometimes diagnosed as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is most likely to affect young women and people who have moved from sunny climates to darker, cloudier regions.

And love? In the US, there is a small peak in births in February and March, indicating conception the previous spring, but more babies are born in August and September, and they would have been conceived in the darkness of winter (when there’s nothing else to do?)

Ah, spring in Nashville (summer, actually)–There’s nothing quite like it, especially when you can attend one of the most thought-provoking Festivals around and make new friends with people who are interested in the same things you are. Come see for yourself, but hurry– tickets are selling out fast!

Art credit: Dreamstime.com

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