When people hear about Seasonal Affective Disorder, commonly referred to as SAD, they usually think about the type that affects people in the winter and cold climate regions. Reverse seasonal affective disorder can affect people in the summer, giving them an annual case of the summertime blues that disrupts their lives.
What is SAD?
Approximately 4% to 6% of people in the U.S. develop SAD, with about 10% of those having a reverse seasonal affective disorder. SAD that happens in the winter is typically triggered by the arrival of cold weather, shorter days, and a lack of regular sunshine. When summer wraps up, the symptoms abate until the next summer arrives. With reverse SAD, the longer days and increases in heat and humidity cause symptoms that include:
- Loss of appetite
- Binge eating
- Weight loss or gain
- Difficulty sleeping
The Different Triggers of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
Several things that arrive each year with the summer season can trigger the difficult symptoms people with reverse SAD feel. Here are some of the most common ones:
Many sufferers of SAD live in areas prone to long time periods of high temperatures, such as the Southern U.S. and places near the equator. Prolonged hot weather often causes people to be hesitant to leave their homes much, preferring to stay in air-conditioned environments. This can cause individuals to wall themselves off from social outings, dating, and venturing out for activities like working out and running errands. Doing so can lead to feeling depressed and lethargic, particularly when this shut-in schedule lasts for a few months or more.
Summer vacations are common but can cause stress for people with reverse seasonal affective disorder. While most people look forward to amusement parks, beach time, and seeking solace in sunny climates, it can be difficult for someone with reverse SAD.
Changes in a person’s schedule or that of their family can trigger SAD symptoms. During the rest of the year, many people keep to a regular schedule, but summer brings disruption to them for many. Parents who spend months with their kids attending school have to come up with plans to keep them entertained and cared for over the summer, which can be stressful. Children often end up with altered eating and sleeping patterns, which cause their parents to have to adapt to them.
Too Much Melatonin
When a person receives too much exposure to sunlight, the body shuts down its production of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that relates to a person’s sleep-wake cycle. It is directly impacted by everything from a day lying out in the sun to simply flipping on a light switch during the night for a few minutes. Because the summer days are longer, the body produces less melatonin. When this causes a disruption in a person’s sleep pattern, it can cause SAD symptoms, including physical and emotional difficulties.
Added Expenses of Summertime
Many things can contribute to making people need a bigger budget during the summer months. This includes vacations, which can run into thousands of dollars, depending on where people go and how many people are involved in a family vacation. Additional kids’ activities that keep them occupied from June to August can add up. Needing childcare in the summer can be expensive. Any of these developments can add another stressor to those already dealing with difficulty getting through the summer.
The Get Fit Season
The annual pressure to have a great beach body rolls around each spring. Madison Avenue bombards society with the idea that summer means no excuses to have washboard abs and bikini bodies. Viewing and hearing a plethora of pressure to lose weight, tone up, and be tan can be quite stressful for anyone. Self-image can take a tumble for anyone who doesn’t already look like a runway model or bodybuilder. It can be even worse for those with the reverse seasonal affective disorder who aren’t inclined to run out and join a gym, exercise outdoors, or start an unhealthy crash diet.
Summer Parties and Get-Together Aren’t Fun for Everyone
Lots of people love to throw or be invited to summertime events like backyard barbecues, pool parties, and holiday get-togethers. For someone who is trying to stay in recovery from an addiction to alcohol or drugs, this can cause difficulty. Alcohol often takes center stage at many of these types of social events, offering temptation a person in recovery does not need.
How Can You Make Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder Less Problematic?
Experts recommend tips like keeping the air conditioning and fans going as often as possible, closing curtains, and staying inside during the peak hours of summer days. Professional treatment can also help someone with reverse seasonal affective disorder. They can discuss their symptoms and come up with a specific plan to help reduce or eliminate them. If any medications can help, a medical professional can advise a person on that. This kind of treatment not only helps someone through each summer but helps reduce the stress leading up to it during the other months.
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