Seasonal Depression Doesn’t Just Happen In Winter

You’d think that summer, with it’s bountiful light and warmth, wouldn’t get people down, but it can. Seasonal effective disorder (SAD) is most often associated with winter, but it’s possible to suffer with the condition during the summer as well. Experts define SAD as a major depression that follows a seasonal pattern for at least two years, and is usually characterized by dips in mood an energy, sleep issues, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, changes in appetite and difficulty concentrating. By most estimations, between five and ten percent of the U.S. population experiences SAD, but only an estimated one percent of those folks have flare-ups during the summer months. Dr. Prakash Thomas, a psychiatrist at Yale-New Haven Hospital, says why this happens isn’t well understood, saying, “There’s a number of hypotheses, including circadian rhythm shifts and neurotransmitter dysregulation.” It’s thought the excess light and heat of summer may disrupt light-mediated biological processes, just as lack of sunlight does for some people in the winter. Rosenthal says cognitive behavioral therapy can help those with summer SAD, as can staying indoors during the middle of the day and keeping cool with the help of cold showers, swimming and air conditioning.