March Madness2024-03-25

Beware the Ides of March.

William Shakespeare

The change in seasons influences people’s moods. As a psychiatrist, I see seasonal depression in Fall and Winter, and (hypo)manias in Spring.

March in particular, around the time of the equinox, seems to be a peak. The slope of change in daylight is likely playing a key role, through circadian clock mechanisms, that my group and others, have shown are core to mood and its disorders1. In addition, the full moon can have effects on mood and suicidality, as we have shown2. (Beyond light, it is unclear if there are any other obscure or less understood geo-magnetic or gravitational type effects). When the two superimpose, as they usually do mid to late March, particular attention and caution needs to be exercised by, and with, susceptible people. On top of that, daylight saving time changes in some regions (“Spring forward”) affect sleep duration at the time of their transition.

Practical measures include going to sleep earlier as a precaution (instead of watching college basketball as is traditional at this time of year in the US), monitoring sleep, monitoring mood, reaching out for help to family, friends and clinicians if need be. Then, the positive upside of the energy can be used for new projects and new beginnings.


  1. Patel, S. D. et al. Coming to grips with complex disorders: genetic risk prediction in bipolar disorder using panels of genes identified through convergent functional genomics. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet 153B, 850-877, doi:10.1002/ajmg.b.31087 (2010).

  2. Bhagar, R. et al. Temporal effects on death by suicide: empirical evidence and possible molecular correlates. Discov Ment Health 3, 10, doi:10.1007/s44192-023-00035-4 (2023).