• Nicole Dodd

Summertime Sadness

The 2012 pop hit by Lana Del Ray speaks to the hidden struggle that many people deal with during what is often promoted to be a picture-perfect time of year. Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a seasonal depression that starts and ends around a specific time each year. While most who suffer from the disorder associate it with the winter months, new research suggests that about 10% of Americans experience SAD symptoms in the summer what’s known as Reverse -SAD. Summer doesn’t have to mean faking #summervibes just because you feel you should.

SAD symptoms present in either season with a loss of interest, low or sad mood, disengagement and withdrawal from others. The distinctions lie where people will experience fatigue, oversleeping and gain weight in the winter, the opposite is

true for those in the summer consisting of insomnia and increase in agitation and energy resembling hypomania symptoms associated with Bipolar II Disorder according to Bustle. There is a more lethal risk for those with Summer -SAD as there has been a higher risk for suicidality. While it’s causes unclear a few theories suggest people have difficulty adapting to a shifting environment, according to Norman Rosenthal, M.D., psychiatrist who first described the condition in 1984. He explains, "Some people with depression in the winter need more light and if they don't get it, this can disturb their internal clock and/or leave them with a deficit of crucial neurotransmitters, like serotonin," he explains. "In the summer, an overload of heat or light similarly disrupts some people's body clock or overwhelms their adaptive mechanisms to deal with the increased stimulus. In either case, you aren't able to rally the protective mechanisms to make you tolerate the change. We evolved with both the light and the dark, so we need both of these phases of the day to get our clocks working as they should. If you have too much of one or can't adapt to one, then you develop SAD," Dr. Rosenthal explains.

Other theorists include that if your environment prevents you from participating in the activities you normally enjoy, that pleasurable deficit in your routine can contribute to seasonal depression. High pollen counts has also been discussed as another idea as those with allergies sensitive to pollen reported significant decrease in mood during the spring and summer months, in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

How do I treat this? Small behavioral changes such as using black out curtains, dark sunglasses, taking a run on the treadmill can help. You should consider meeting with a medical professional to get on antidepressants and talking to a mental health therapist, trained in CBT as this combination has contributed to significant progress for sufferers.For more information contact NMD Wellness Today to see how we can help you navigate and cope with seasonal depression. If you are FL resident out of town, ask us about our secure video counseling options.

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