What Are The Symptoms
SAD is considered a form of major depressive disorder, and there are some overlapping symptoms. Symptoms of major depression that you may experience with SAD include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
- Having problems with sleep
- Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide
You may also experience insomnia, poor appetite, and restlessness.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Sad
SAD is not considered a separate disorder but is a type of depression characterized by its recurrent seasonal pattern, with symptoms lasting about 4 to 5 months per year. Therefore, the signs and symptoms of SAD include those associated with major depression, and some specific symptoms that differ for winter-pattern and summer-pattern SAD. Not every person with SAD will experience all of the symptoms listed below.
Symptoms of major depression may include:
- Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Experiencing changes in appetite or weight
- Having problems with sleep
- Episodes of violent behavior
How Is Sad Diagnosed
If you think you may be suffering from SAD, talk to your health care provider or a mental health specialist about your concerns. They may have you fill out specific questionnaires to determine if your symptoms meet the criteria for SAD.
To be diagnosed with SAD, a person must meet the following criteria:
- They must have symptoms of major depression or the more specific symptoms listed above.
- The depressive episodes must occur during specific seasons for at least 2 consecutive years. However, not all people with SAD do experience symptoms every year.
- The episodes must be much more frequent than other depressive episodes that the person may have had at other times of the year during their lifetime.
Read Also: Can Lamictal Be Used For Depression
Get Thee To The Movies
If the bright lights of summer exacerbate your SAD, Healthline suggests heading to the ice-cold, completely dark movie theater on a regular basis during the summer.
While this might not have been possible a year ago, more and more movie theaters are opening their doors as vaccines continue to roll out as we move closer to the end of the pandemic.
Entertainment, darkness, and air-conditioning all without having to increase your own utility bills. If youre suffering from summer SAD, why not give it a try?
Make Space For Your Emotions
When youre overwhelmed by your emotions, it can cause you to shut down, explains Rachel Landman, a licensed mental health counselor and assistant director at Humantold a New-York-City-based provider of compassionate psychotherapy services.
Providing a space to actually experience the feelings helps our bodies to not have to shut down as much, she says. I recommend a minimum of 10 minutes a day to sit in a quiet space, close your eyes, and feel all your feelings. This can be either guided or done on your own there is no right way to meditate or be mindful of what is happening inside of you.
Recommended Reading: Newest Treatments For Drug Resistant Depression
What Are The Symptoms Of Summer Sad
Though SAD is characterized by depression no matter the season, the symptoms people experience in the winter and summer can differ drastically. “The winter types are slow-thinking, slow-moving. The summer types are sometimes energized and agitated in a way that isn’t very pleasant,” Dr. Rosenthal, who’s a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, told POPSUGAR. “The winter types will be eating more, especially sweets and starches. The summer types may lose their appetites completely.” Finally, “while the winter types tend to sleep more, the summer types are more likely to have insomnia,” Dr. Rosenthal explained.
He added that people with summer SAD are actually at higher risk for suicide. “That goes along with clinical observations that it is more common for people to be suicidal when they’re depressed and agitated than when they’re depressed and sluggish,” Dr. Rosenthalsaid.
Be Proactive About Meeting Your Own Expectations
All of that said, having expectations isnt necessarily a bad thing, says Winch. A lot of the time, people have certain expectations for the summergoing to the beach, hanging out with friends, catching up on reading, whateverand they totally have the ability to meet them. They just…dont. It happens! Summer is a lethargic season and the call of staying inside in front of your A/C can be so, so seductive. Plus, life doesnt stop for summer just because we want it to.
But if you know youre someone who always gets let down by their own expectations, you have to be proactive. You have to set up the kinds of circumstances that will allow you to enjoy the things you were expecting to enjoy, says Winch. So if your idea of a great summer is the possibility of a summer fling, you might have to dust off those dating apps, or if you want to make it to the beach, you might have to be the one to rally your friends and make the plan.
If you just read this tip and found yourself thinking, Wow, easier said than done, because being proactive truly feels impossible, thats a possible sign that what youre dealing with falls outside of summer blues and into depression or summer SAD territory.
Don’t Miss: How To Explain Depression To Parents
Exercise And Eat Well
Summer SAD can keep you on the couch longer than youd like to be. And it can cause your diet to take a turn for the worse, too.
Luckily, theres an easy fix, as long as youre willing to be proactive. Research suggests that exercising regularly and maintaining a well-balanced diet can enhance your mood.
How Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosed
If you have symptoms of SAD, dont try to diagnose yourself. See a healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation. You may have a physical issue thats causing depression. But many times, seasonal affective disorder is part of a more complex mental health issue.
Your provider may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals talk to you about your symptoms. They consider the pattern of symptoms and decide if you have seasonal depression or another mood disorder. You may need to fill out a questionnaire to determine if you have SAD.
Recommended Reading: How To Help Someone Cope With Depression
What Is Summer Depression
Summer depression is a form of depression that occurs specifically during the summer season. It’s considered to be a form of seasonal affective disorder , and in the United States alone, it’s estimated that 4-6% of Americans experience SAD. The majority of American adults experience SAD during the winter months, yet only 10% experience summer depression, often referred to as “reverse seasonal affective disorder.”
Summer depression doesn’t occur randomly. It’s believed that it returns at the same time each year, creating an observable pattern, which both the patient and caregiver can identify.
Because summer SAD affects only a small percentage of people, there haven’t been many studies examining this mental illness. However, one thing remains certain: people who suffer from summer depression tend to experience a decrease in their overall mental wellbeing when the temperature begins to rise. And, like any other form of depression, it’s important to acknowledge and address this issue.
Can You Have Sad In The Summer
Seasonal affective disorder can occur during any time of the year, but for a patient to receive a SAD diagnosis, it must occur during the same time of year for two years, per the National Institute of Mental Health . Meaning, if you have a depressive episode in the summer one year followed by a depressive episode in the winter the next year, you probably dont have SAD but rather another mood disorder that you should talk to your doctor about.
Depression, in general, is an episodic illness. You can be depressed any time of year. If youre always depressed in the summer, that doesnt automatically mean you have SADwhich is a rare diagnosiswhereas major depressive disorder is not. To be sure, summer SAD is much less prevalent than winter SADits believed that just 1% of the U.S. population suffers from the former. And if you do find yourself repeatedly feeling down in the dumps during the warm weather months, there could be another explanation altogether.
You can have a seasonal pattern of depression that hits in the summerit may or may not be a seasonal affective disorder, says Owen Muir, MD, a psychiatrist and co-founder ofBrooklyn Minds. There are potentially a number of explanations for it. Thats the reason I take two hours to do an intake because what seems like an easy answer to something ultimately isnt.
Read Also: Can I Get Out Of Depression
What Should I Do If I Have Summer Sad
There’s lots of research into cures for winter SAD, but summer SAD is a little trickier to treat. Dr. Rosenthal recommends first trying to find reprieve from the heat and light. He observed that some of his patients felt better after taking a cold shower, swimming in a lake or ocean, staying indoors with the air conditioning on, or wearing sunglasses. However, Dr. Rosenthal noted that researchers “haven’t been able to establish a systematic way” to treat summer SAD.
Ladipo suggests starting a mood journal to track how you’re feeling every day, as well as talking to people in your support system and moving your body in whatever way feels good to you, whether that’s dancing, running, swimming, or something else. She recommends still going outside in the early morning or the evening, even if the heat and light are triggers, in order to avoid isolating yourself and making the depression worse.
If the feelings of depression and agitation are persistent, talk to a doctor or therapist. “Depression can be a really serious business, especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “All these self-help tips are wonderful and valuable, but if you’re really suffering, you really want to see a professional.”
If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal ideation or are at risk, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has several resources and a 24/7 lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Make Sleep A Priority
The long, sunny days and warm nights can make it hard to sleep, which can harm mental well-being, but prioritizing and regulating your sleep can improve your mood, Lim explains.
Turning to online relaxation aids and apps may help you get some solid shuteye, Lim says. Options include:
- Mobile apps that promote relaxation, such as Aura or Calm
- Autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR, videos on YouTube, which produce positive, relaxing feelings in response to gentle stimuli
- Hypnosis videos
- White noise
- Binaural beats a sound illusion created by listening to two tones with different frequencies simultaneously.
On the other hand, it may be helpful to completely unplug from technology before bed, advises Lim. Using smartphones, laptops, and tablets before turning in can disrupt melatonin production and raise anxiety and stress, making it more difficult to drift off to sleep.
Although some research suggests that an overproduction of melatonin in the body may play a role in SAD, you may benefit from a low dose of melatonin an hour before bedtime if disturbed sleep is having a negative impact on your mental health and other relaxation techniques dont help, says Lim. Melatonin can help to restore the bodys usual sleep-wake pattern, she says.
Also Check: Lamictal For Treatment Resistant Depression
Symptoms Of Summer Depression
Be mindful of these signs and symptoms of depression:
At what point should you see a physician? Gallagher says if youre having trouble getting out of bed in the morning or you cant control your thoughts or its hard for you to feel happy or spend time with loved ones, its time to seek treatment.
What Causes Summertime Depression
In the winter, the lack of sunlight is believed to cause SAD. So, how can it also affect people in the summer when we have so many more hours of daylight? Well, health experts have explained that SAD cases that occur during the summer months may be a result of too much sun.
This is because too much sunlight turns off melatonin production in your body. Melatonin is the hormone that drives your sleep-wake cycle, so the long summer days can cause a lack of melatonin in your body. Summer SAD also has some of the opposite side effects of winter SAD, which can cause weight gain and sleepiness among other symptoms. Instead, summer SAD can result in weight loss, difficulties with sleeping and feeling generally miserable.
You may also be noticing some of the effects of summer SAD because of social reasons. If everyone around you is having fun and enjoying themselves particularly as everyone seems to be making up for lost time post-lockdown this can make you feel guilty or ‘abnormal’ for feeling down or wanting to stay in.
Speaking to MSNBC, Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School said: “In its most severe form, people with summer seasonal depression may be more at risk for suicide than cold-weather SAD.”
Dr. Rosenthal added: “Suicide is more of a concern when people are depressed and agitated rather than depressed and lethargic.”
Don’t Miss: Why Does My Period Make Me So Depressed
When Should I Go To The Emergency Room
If you or a loved one has suicidal thoughts, get help. Call your provider, go to an emergency room, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, at 800.273.8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides free, confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Its available 24/7.
For Parents With Sad Share Responsibilities With Other Parents
One of the biggest shifts that happens during the warmer months is summer vacation for school-aged children and young adults. Daily challenges can become more manageable for parents with summer-pattern SAD, experts say, when you and other parents tackle them together.
For many trying to manage work and life, it can become stressful when you try to take everything on by yourself. If you have children, try and identify a network so that you can share responsibilities with other parents in order to relieve daily life stressors, Silva suggests.
One example is starting a carpool with other parents by alternating who drops the kids off for day camp or other summer activities and who picks them up.
Recommended Reading: What Medication Can Help Depression
Reverse Sad Is A Thing Here’s How To Treat It
Editors note: This article contains mentions of suicide.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or the Crisis Text Line by texting 741741.
Were culturally obsessed with summer.
Summer is all about social life and fun. Youre supposed to be happy. Youre supposed to be outside. Youre supposed to be soaking up the sun.
A lot of people still wonder, how could anyone be depressed in the summer? Beth McColl wrote for SELF. How could you be anything but happy-go-lucky when its so gorgeous and perfect outside?
McColl writes as someone who experiences depression year-round: summer isnt a magic depression-eraser.
In fact, for some, depression only intensifies in the summer.
They have whats known as Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
In other words, when Lana Del Rey sang about “Summertime Sadness,” she wasnt making it up.
About 10 percent of people with SAD have this kind, says Rob Cole, clinical director of mental health services at Banyan Treatment Center.
For the winter SAD, the most pronounced symptom is lethargy, he said. Whereas Reverse SAD tends to be characterized by feelings of agitation.
Take A Social Media Break
Although social media can help people stay connected to others, it has downsides for mental health, says Clarissa Silva, master of social work, a behavioral scientist, researcher, and relationship coach in New York City.
If scrolling through social media triggers any of these reactions for you, it might help to limit your exposure to social media or try a digital detox a period of time where you stop using social media or electronic devices.
Optimally, limiting your social media time to 30 minutes per day can enhance outlook, increase positive thoughts, and reduce rumination, Silva explains.
Don’t Miss: I Am Isolated And Depressed
How To Manage Summer Depression
Summer depression might be a temporary condition, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult for those who experience it. Luckily, there are ways to cope with this hot time of year.
Let’s look at some of them below:
- Get your Z’s. To help prevent depression-induced insomnia, prioritize your sleep schedule. Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Exposing yourself to bright morning light when you first wake up can help regulate your body’s melatonin production. What’s more, keeping your room cool and dark can ensure that you’ll be well-rested.
- Wear protective eyewear. If the sunlight is too bright for you, be sure to wear dark lenses whenever you spend time outdoors. This can prevent eye discomfort and even headaches.
- Respect your schedule. Even though we can associate a strict schedule with a lack of freedom, it’s just the opposite for some individuals with summer depression. Instead of being oppressive, a schedule can help you feel in control, and it can also help to lessen your feelings of anxiety and agitation.
- Plan a fun activity. Having something to look forward to can help move you through your summer depression rather than keep you feeling trapped. Is there a park you want to visit? An upcoming concert? Whatever it is, schedule it in, and stick to it.