Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, is a form of depression that’s linked to the seasons. Around 4-6% of people suffer from it around the world, and while many believe it’s a winter affliction, SAD can be just as devastating in the summer. In the psychology world this summer SADness is refereed to as reverse seasonal affective disorder and according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness the disorder affects less than 1/10th of all those with SAD.
Traditional SAD is linked to a lack of sunlight, and the inverse may be responsible for summer SAD: too much sunlight. This could lead to changes in melatonin production, and any unnatural changes to the body’s hormones is usually a bad thing. Melatonin manages the body’s sleep-wake cycles, and proper sleep is of the utmost importance to health. Another theory is that people might stay up later in the summer and this throws off their circadian rhythms. Interestingly, both forms of SAD are more prevalent in areas that are particularly prone to warmer summers.
The SAD Symptoms
Oversleeping. SAD can make it hard to fall asleep and even harder to wake up. The disorder is closely linked to the sleep cycle.
Mood changes. The mood becomes more than mercurial when suffering from SAD.
Weight Gain. SAD can make summer confidence dwindle.
Difficulty with concentration. The focused sun can make those with SAD lose their focus.
Loss of interest in activities. The draining effects of SAD can make doing one’s favorite things a difficult task.
Social withdrawal. SAD makes getting social straining.
Thoughts of suicide. SAD is a form of depression and is just as serious. If you or a loved one have thoughts of suicide contact a professional immediately.
While those with reverse SAD only make up 1/10th of 4-6% of all people, they are still not alone. Everyday more research is done, and everyday professionals get closer to a cure. For now, the best thing to do is practice some coping methods. There is no reason to make things harder on yourself, and doing just one of these may be the difference between a day feeling down and one with a bit of relief.
Reach out to friends or family
While you may be suffering alone that doesn’t mean you have to be alone. Seek out help, your friends or family will be sure to be there. If there’s no one in your life join a support group or speak with a professional. The worst thing to do when it comes to depression is isolate yourself. Reaching out is the first step toward feeling better.
Try yoga and meditation
It may sound cliche, but things are cliche for a reason. Yoga and meditation both have great power when it comes to combating SAD. These exercises lead to a state of relaxation and help to alleviate stress. For even better results bring your most supportive friend!
Invest in some quality shades
You may want to darken your home. The extra sunlight is the issue, so if you can block some out you may find relief. To make it less — for lack of a better word — depressing, get blinds with a bit of color. They can be blackout blinds without being black.
The SAD Sign Off
Dr. Normal Rosenthal, a SAD expert, believes that the cause of summer SAD may be connected to fear of missing out. In the Summertime people are going on vacation, heading to the beach, having a great time, and if you’re not it will make you feel isolated, left out, alone. These are major stressers that are actually biologically engineered. Our brains want us to be a part of the group, it was a survival tactic: the need to belong. If we feel like we don’t belong it can lead to depression.
While the cause of Summer SAD is still unclear, it is clear that it can be debilitating. Do what you can to cope, and if you have further questions about the research being done on SAD and depression at large please contact us.