Thursday, 7 July 2011

SAD in the summer

Most people are now aware of SAD ( seasonal affective disorder)as a depression that can affect people during the long winter months due to the lack of natural light. This is a very real condition and I myself have a daughter who suffers with this. I suppose really you can see the sense in it too, long dark days, can't get out so much, cold wet weather is enough to get anybody down and for some the lack of daylight leads to an imbalance in their system and depression becomes a very real problem. Great advances have been made in the treating of this condition and we ourselves invested in a light box for our daughter to help her cope with the winter months.
But how do you explain the same symptoms during the summer months? Can there be such a thing as SAD in the summer? and if so why? The days are longer so the lack of natural light shouldn't be an issue, the sun shines most days ( well it's supposed to) and the weather is warmer, we go out more and most of us will enjoy a holiday during this season, so why would you suffer from SAD in the summer months? I myself dread the summer months but have always put that down to the fact that the heat makes my condition so much worse, with swollen stiff joints and red blotchy itchy skin I'm not fit to go out and enjoy the sun or indeed fit to be seen out in the sun. This is exasperated further by the fact I am actually allergic to the suns rays, another drawback of having very fair skin. So I have good reason to dread the summer months arriving, but I had never really looked before into the possibility of SAD playing some part in my 'low' feelings during these months. I was surprised to find I was not alone in my dislike of the summer, whilst a lot of people were happy to see the summer and welcomed each new sunny day there were those lurking in the background who were making negative comments about this season. I decided to investigate further, I spoke to others who appeared to feel the same as I did for varying reasons and it seems that SAD is alive and thriving during the summer months too. Wikipedia describe SAD as

"Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression, winter blues, summer depression, summer blues, or seasonal depression, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or summer,[1] spring or autumn year after year. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), SAD is not a unique mood disorder, but is "a specifier of major depression".[2]
Although experts were initially skeptical, this condition is now recognized as a common disorder, with its prevalence in the U.S. ranging from 1.4 percent in Florida to 9.7 percent in New Hampshire.[3]
The U.S. National Library of Medicine notes that "some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up."[4] The condition in the summer is often referred to as reverse seasonal affective disorder, and can also include heightened anxiety.[5]
SAD was first formally described and named in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health.[6][7]
There are many different treatments for classic (winter-based) seasonal affective disorder, including light therapy with sunlight or bright lights, antidepressant medication, cognitive-behavioral therapy, ionized-air administration,[8] and carefully timed supplementation of the hormone melatonin.[9]"

And recognise quite clearly that the summer version of this condition does exist and can be just as debilitating for the sufferer as the more accepted winter version.
From a Psychologists point of view I believe that there is something that initially sets off that worry/fear/dislike of the season, be that the heat, the pressure to have a summer body beautiful,maybe even the pressure or boredom and lack of structure of holidays, this then leads to apprehension about certain months/seasons and the connection is made. Does this then lead to SAD or is that just a part of a very real condition? I really don't know but undoubtably SAD is affecting people in a very real way in all seasons so next time someone tells you they really can not cope with, or dislike the summer months, think on, it may be more than just 'having a moan'
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


tinysuz said...

Interesting. I know people that suffer from SAD during the winter months and I think most of us do to some extent. As a sun lover myself, I have never considered that people suffer with SAD during the summer months.

Stuart said...

Wonderful blog Penny and a topic well worth giving some attention to. I couldn't resist adding my personal view on this subject as it means a lot to me and my life. The link below is to my offerings. Thanks Penny for making this very real POINT one of yours.