SAD in the Summer
Summer has arrived, but where is the sun? The "June Gloom" seems to have begun in May, and it doesn't look like it will clear anytime soon. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) usually strikes in the winter months and in colder climates. However, this year the cloudy weather may be bringing on "Summer SAD."
Do you feel like you can't get out of bed in the morning, have no energy, and have an increased appetite, especially for starches and sweets? Do you feel depressed and show little or no interest in your normal activities or in talking to your friends? Sometimes, these symptoms can be quite severe. This condition is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)-it's "seasonal" because the mood change happens during a certain season, and it's "affective," or emotional, because it causes emotional changes in a person.
Did you know that you're about seven times more likely to suffer from SAD if you live in New Hampshire than if you live in Florida? You're also more likely to suffer from SAD if you're female and over the age of 20, although SAD is sometimes seen in kids and adolescents.
What causes SAD? Some experts think it's a lack of sunlight during the winter months, when the days are shorter and daylight is scarce. They believe that a lack of sunlight increases the body's production of a chemical called melatonin, which helps regulate sleep and can cause symptoms of depression.
A popular treatment for SAD is called "light therapy," in which the person exposes herself to a special type of light for an amount of time each day, sometimes using a light visor or a light box provided by a doctor. Other treatments include medication, changes in diet, learning new ways to manage stress, or sometimes a vacation to a sunny, warm climate during the cold months.
Remember, for most people, emotional ups and downs are normal at any time of
year and are not necessarily a cause for concern. However, it's important to
talk to your doctor if you think you may be experiencing the severe
symptoms of SAD. SAD is not just "all in your imagination" and, with a
doctor's help, there are ways that you can feel better.
Last Editorial Review: 6/23/2003