Summertime Blues: Warm Weather Seasonal Affective Disorder

While much has been made of Seasonal Affective Disorder and its impact on people in winter, a number of people also experience the problem in summer. Experts say the longer days and increasing heat and humidity can trigger the condition in someone prone to the disorder.

While wintertime SAD triggers longer sleep cycles and increased eating, said physician Nzinga Harrison, it has the opposite effect in summer months.

“The summer variation actually has more of it being that depressed quality of mood,” she said. “More insomnia, lack of appetite, or poor appetite and weight loss.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, as many as 10 percent of the U.S. population is impacted by SAD, with a small number of them experiencing symptoms in the warmer months. Triggers for people with summertime SAD can be body-image issues, financial worries over summer expenses and the absence of a routine.

In order to treat summertime blues, Harrison said, it’s important to recognize the problem.

“One of the ways you know that is you start to have negative anticipation for summer because it seems like every summer you feel terrible,” she said. “That’s your first clue: ‘I may have summer onset seasonal affective disorder.’

“While prescription medication and therapy sometimes are good options, experts recommend planning ahead if you know you are prone to seasonal depression. You can address common triggers by scheduling your days, making sure you eat a balanced meal and get to bed at a decent hour.

By Stephanie Carson