Here’s what you should know.
When you think of seasonal depression, you’re likely associating it with the winter time. While that is certainly one side of it, it’s not the whole picture. This condition is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). More recently, it has even been referred to as Major Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern (MDD-SP). While SAD is typically linked to lack of sunlight, there are plenty of other reasons it may occur. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons!
Too Much Sun?
On the other side of the coin, we see that SAD in the summer months could actually be caused by too much sunlight. In fact, too much sunlight decreases the production of melatonin, which is the hormone that affects the sleep-wake cycle. While many of us enjoy longer hours of daylight, an excessive amount of it could be worsening your circadian rhythm, and therefore, contributing to SAD. In addition to the sunlight, the heat has been found to cause very high levels of irritability and anxiety. Other symptoms can include reduced appetite, weight loss, and restlessness.
Who Does This Affect?
There are certain groups of people who are at a higher risk of SAD, no matter what season it may be. Females, for example, have been found to be affected more often than males by SAD. Males have reported more severe symptoms, though. There also appears to be a genetic aspect of MDD-SP, meaning those with relatives who also have it are more likely to experience MDD-SP themselves. Location is a factor too. Living closer to the equator can actually cause more MDD-SP, due to hotter climates. Additionally, someone with bipolar disorder is more susceptible to experiencing symptoms as the seasons change.
Treatment and When to Take Action
Treatment for winter SAD will often include antidepressants, therapy, and vitamin D. There have not been many established treatments for the summertime version, but there are some methods that can help. These include using air conditioning and improving sleep. One way to improve sleep is by spending more time in the dark before going to bed. Yoga can also help with better sleep, as well as avoiding caffeine and alcohol.
Therapy or psychiatry are other great ways to help manage SAD symptoms. Visit us at SOL Mental Health, where we offer a variety of services to our patients with a wide range of mental health concerns. If you have been feeling unlike yourself and have been experiencing higher anxiety levels, it’s probably time to connect with a professional. Reach out today to learn more! As always, we are here to help you with your mental health journey.