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Season Affective Disorder (SAD)

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7 years ago

Season Affective Disorder (SAD) is a condition typically associated with increased depression symptoms related with the winter season. As the days of winter get colder and produce less sunlight some people experience an increase in depression symptoms. About 4-6 percent of the US population is affected by seasonal affective disorder. Depression symptoms may include an increase or decrease in sleep, appetite and weight. Symptoms may also include isolation, decreased energy and a lack of interest in pleasurable activities. Additionally, thoughts of suicide or homicide may also be present. According to Ian A. Cook MD, Director of the Depression Research Program at UCLA, about 10 percent of people who have season affective disorder experience their symptoms during the summer season as opposed to the winter season when it is more commonly expected. Depression symptoms specific to summer depression often include decreased appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss and anxiety.

According to Ian A. Cook MD there are several factors that contribute to Seasonal Affective Disorder occurring during the summer. Factors include disrupted schedules; body image issues; financial concerns and increased temperatures.

During summer months, schedule changes often occur that can have significant impact on a person’s mood. Structure and routine are often excellent coping skills to help manage depression effectively. In the summer when days get longer and children are typically out of school for the summer a change in schedule can be havoc for one’s mood. People often vacation during summer which can also adversely impact someone’s schedule and routine.

Warmer weather and sunny days are generally associated with more revealing summer clothes and bathing suits which may be difficult for people with body image challenges to manage and negatively impact their mood.  Additionally, as many events and activities in the summer revolve around swimming, beaches and outdoor activities people a startling social situations out of embarrassment.  Warmer weather may also be a significant factor in affecting one’s mood.  During one reminds people may have a tendency to spend more time indoors watching TV in engaging in sedentary activities.  People may not get out and exercise as much due to the heat or resort to eating less healthy food to avoid preparing food and the heat.

Additional financial stress during the summer may also contribute to experiencing a negative mood.  With an increase in activities during the summer also comes an increase in financial demands.  Events, vacations, baby sitters and additional expenses during the summer may significantly contribute to financial stress and increased depression symptoms.

The depression during the summer may be a significant challenge for some there are steps people can take to help.  First, if you are experiencing symptoms of depression please see professional help.  Seek support from your doctor or from a therapist, psychiatrist, psychologist or social worker.  If you’re having any thoughts of hurting yourself or others, please call 911.

Make sure you are continuing to practice good self-care by engaging in healthy habits.  Ensure sure you’re getting adequate sleep.  Summer activities, long days in short minutes can all contribute to staying up longer than usual.  Not getting enough sleep can be a trigger for depression symptoms.  Make sure you’re getting regular exercise.  Research has found their regular exercise can significantly decrease depression symptoms.  With the increase in temperature you may have to make accommodations to your schedule.  Try exercising earlier in the morning or later in the evening.  You may consider joining a gym during summer months and work out indoors.  Set healthy boundaries with others in order to protect your mental health.  Don’t feel obligated to attend or host every event during the summer.  If you are feeling overwhelmed about an event, ask for help or simply decline to attend. Additionally, remain compliant with any medications and follow-up with your doctor regularly to ensure they are working effectively. Depression is a serious condition but given the appropriate resources and tools it can be managed effectively.