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National Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness Day: Not having fun in the sun? It could be summertime depression

The arrival of summer is generally associated with long hours spent on the beach with friends and family, playing in the water, making sand castles, looking for sea shells and crabs, and getting the perfect tan while sipping chilled coolers. However, if summer makes one think of depression, loss of appetite, and feelings of helplessness, worthlessness and impending doom, then one might be suffering from SAD.

A mood disorder, seasonal affective disorder or seasonal affective depression (SAD) happens every year at the same time. SAD has two variants; winter blues, which generally starts in either fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer; and summertime depression or summer blues, which begins in late spring or early summer and ends during the fall season. Usually affecting young adults, it is more common in women. While both the SAD variants may generate similar feelings, they often manifest in different ways.

Though the exact causes of SAD are unknown, experts are of the opinion that the disorder may be a result of hormonal changes that take place at specific times of the year. While someone with winter SAD may eat a lot, gain weight and may sleep long hours, those with summer SAD experience lower appetites, weight loss and trouble sleeping. However, like winter SAD, summer SAD includes depressive symptoms, including psychological symptoms like guilt and hopelessness; and physical symptoms like unexplained headaches.

If left untreated, SAD can affect one’s performance at school and work. Over time, it can develop into social withdrawal, leading to suicidal ideation. A debilitating condition, when recognized in time, it can be treated effectively.

Following are the top five signs of summertime depression.

Insomnia/Sleeping Trouble: Compared to winter SAD, summer SAD causes disturbed sleeping patterns leading to restlessness, insomnia and fatigue. Insomnia is known to cause lethargy and daytime sleepiness. Those suffering from this disorder often have great difficulty falling asleep or have trouble staying asleep. Lack of sleep often worsens the other symptoms of the disorder.

Poor appetite and weight Loss: While people with winter SAD tend to have an increased appetite and weight gain issues, the reverse happens in the case of summer SAD. One may lose his or her appetite and find the thought of food repulsive, resulting in weight loss. Too much heat and a loss of appetite may further lead to a loss of nutrients, worsening the symptoms of the disorder.

Feelings of depression: Summer SAD is characterized by feeling depressed, irritable, stressed or anxious; having a persistent low mood and self-esteem; and feelings of guilt, despair and worthlessness. Such feelings lead to extreme discomfort and distress. When ignored or left untreated, these can interfere with one’s work and social interactions and might even increase the risk of hurting oneself or others.

With the aim to help those affected with SAD receive proper treatment and help, July 24, 2017, is observed as the National Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Awareness Day. Though one percent people around the world suffer from summer SAD, the necessary information about where to seek treatment is lacking. The observance of this day is aimed at informing people about SAD, sharing useful information and raising funds to help those affected.

Treatment is possible

A common mental health disorder, SAD is a real and serious ailment. To effectively treat the disorder, one needs to take note of the early SAD symptoms, including changes in appetite, mood and energy levels, and start treatment as early as possible. A leading behavioral health care provider, Sovereign Health provides top-notch treatment for a variety of behavioral health problems including treatment for depression.

For more information about our evidence-based mental health treatment programs offered or to know about our events, call our 24/7 helpline number 855-969-5557. You can even chat online with one of our representatives for further assistance.

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