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  • Writer's pictureRMTC Team

Understanding Seasonal Affective Disorder in Summer 


mental health, therapy, counselling, kitchener, waterloo, cambridge

When most people think of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), they typically associate it with the cold, dark days of winter. However, a lesser-known but equally impactful form of SAD occurs during the summer months. Understanding Summer SAD, its symptoms, and effective management strategies can help those affected find relief and maintain their mental health during the sunny season. 

 

What is Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder? 

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern. While winter SAD is more common, Summer SAD affects a significant number of individuals. The exact causes of Summer SAD are not fully understood, but factors such as increased heat and humidity, changes in sunlight exposure, and disrupted routines are believed to play a role. 

 

Symptoms of Summer SAD 

 

The symptoms of Summer SAD can vary, but common signs include: 

  1. Insomnia: Difficulty sleeping or disrupted sleep patterns are common due to longer daylight hours and higher temperatures. 

  1. Loss of Appetite: Unlike winter SAD, which often leads to overeating and weight gain, Summer SAD can cause a reduced appetite and weight loss. 

  1. Agitation and Anxiety: Increased feelings of restlessness, irritability, and anxiety are frequently reported. 

  1. Depression: Persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in usual activities can occur. 

  1. Fatigue: Despite longer days, individuals with Summer SAD may feel constantly tired and lethargic. 

  1. Social Withdrawal: A tendency to avoid social interactions and activities is common, partly due to feeling overwhelmed by the heat or sunlight. 

 

Managing Summer SAD 

 

Recognizing and addressing the symptoms of Summer SAD is crucial for maintaining mental health. Here are some effective strategies

  1. Create a Cool and Dark Sleeping Environment: Use blackout curtains and air conditioning or fans to keep your bedroom cool and dark. This can improve sleep quality and reduce insomnia. 

  1. Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, as dehydration can exacerbate feelings of fatigue and irritability. 

  1. Limit Sun Exposure: While some sunlight is beneficial, too much can be overwhelming. Wear sunglasses, use sunscreen, and take breaks in the shade to manage sun exposure. 

  1. Establish a Routine: Keeping a consistent daily routine can provide structure and reduce anxiety. Plan activities during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. 

  1. Stay Active: Engage in physical activities that you enjoy, such as swimming or yoga, to boost your mood and energy levels. 

  1. Seek Professional Help: If symptoms persist or worsen, consult a mental health professional. Therapy, medication, or a combination of both can be effective in managing SAD. 

 

Recognizing and Treating Summer SAD 

 

It's essential to differentiate between typical summer discomfort and Summer SAD. If you notice a consistent pattern of depressive symptoms that coincide with the summer months, consider the possibility of Summer SAD. Early recognition and treatment are key to managing the condition effectively. 

  1. Monitor Your Mood: Keep a journal to track your mood, sleep patterns, and any changes in appetite or energy levels. This can help you identify patterns and provide valuable information to your healthcare provider. 

  1. Talk to a Professional: A mental health professional can diagnose SAD and develop a personalized treatment plan. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and medication are commonly used to treat SAD. 

  1. Consider Light Therapy: While light therapy is more often associated with winter SAD, some individuals with Summer SAD may benefit from exposure to controlled amounts of artificial light. 

  1. Join a Support Group: Connecting with others who understand what you're going through can provide emotional support and practical advice. 

 

Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder is a real and challenging condition that can significantly impact one's quality of life. By understanding its symptoms and implementing effective management strategies, those affected can find relief and enjoy the summer months. If you or someone you know is struggling with Summer SAD, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health, and taking proactive steps can make a significant difference. 

 

Relationship Matters Therapy Centre is a private therapy practice in downtown Galt, serving Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, and Guelph in-person, or Ontario-wide online. If you’re looking to book an appointment with any one of the therapists at Relationship Matters you may contact us via email at admin@relationshipmatterstherapy.com, or by phone at (226) 894-4112.    

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