Thursday, July 25, 2019 6:45 PM

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Summer has the Blues, Too

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a mood condition often associated with the winter months. It’s said to affect about 10 percent of the U.S. population according to the National Alliance on Mental Health. SAD in reverse, hitting us during the summer, accounts for 1/10th of all SAD cases.

SAD is defined by mania or depression in a person that appears at roughly the same time, every year. Symptoms of SAD include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Heaviness in the limbs
  • Headaches
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Change in energy levels

Summer SAD vs. Winter SAD

Summer SAD shows similar signs as winter SAD. Like its cool-weather cousin, it comes on at the same time of year, each year. However, some Summer SAD symptoms differ from Winter SAD! Respectively, insomnia, weight loss and increased energy, as opposed to increased sleep, weight gain and decreased energy. In short, Summer SAD may appear as mania rather than depression.

The causes of the hot weather variety are unclear. However, it may be triggered by too much brightness, high temperatures, or altered sleeping patterns due to time/light changes. Those who already experience depression or bipolar disorder may see a worsening of symptoms during SAD periods. Effects may become more severe as the season progresses.

What to do about Seasonal Affective Disorder

Any prolonged depression and corresponding management should always be discussed with a physician. Summer SAD treatments can include everything from counseling to medication. Light treatments, very effective for winter SAD, are not helpful with summer SAD.
This disorder should be taken seriously though; SAD can lead to serious problems. Problems such as social withdrawal, substance abuse, linked mental health disorders, and suicidal thoughts if not treated.