Do You Have Autumn Anxiety?

What Causes Fall Freakouts and How to Manage Them.

Dr. Jenny King


An empty road surrounded by a colorful fall forest.
Photo by Benjamin Voros on Unsplash

Oh, fall. The crisp air. The crunching of leaves. The warm mugs of apple cider.

The shorter days.

The back-to-school, ultra-structured urgency.

The ongoing, surging international pandemic.


If you find yourself holding both the beauty and the stress– or just the stress! — that comes with the fall months, know that you are not alone. Autumn Anxiety is a term that describes the increase in worry, fear, and stress related to the changing of the seasons. There is typically not a specific or identifiable external trigger; for some, it may occur annually at about this time.

Symptoms may include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Appetite changes
  • Increases in illness or pain
  • Irritability
  • Low mood
  • Excessive worry
  • Lethargy and fatigue

There are several different reasons why Autumn Anxiety might strike, some related to our biology and some related to our environment. But all are valid, can impact our functioning, and all mean that the changes we feel are NOT just in our heads.

Let’s pause if reading this first bit has you freaking out already. Put your phone down if that’s how you’re reading this. Breathe your natural breath. Create a bit of heat by rubbing your palms together a few times. Create cups with your palms, and place them gently over your eyes. Keep breathing and hold this for as long as it feels good.

So, first, let’s think about transitions as potential stressors. If you have or spend time around children, you’ve seen this potential in action. Moving from activity to activity, class to class, or thing to thing are the prime times for big meltdowns. Consider all the transitions inherent to fall: back to school, changes in schedules, shorter daylight hours, and specific to this fall, everchanging guidelines regarding the COVID-19 and Monkeypox public health crises. Dr. Sonia Lupin at the Center for Studies on Human Stress — a place that sounds like an absolute blast — describes the perfect recipe…



Dr. Jenny King

Mother. Social Work Educator. Consultant. Writer. Unschooler. Trauma-Informed. @drjennyking