The arrival of autumn and winter can herald a period of reduced feelings of vitality and happiness for some people. Known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, this condition produces a range of symptoms from depression to anxiety to oversleeping when the cooler temps usher in. However, many may be surprised to know that a similar phenomenon can occur during the time when people are supposed to be recharged and ready to take on the world.
Data published in Psychology Today says that about one in 10 people suffer from something similar to SAD in the spring or summer. Dubbed reverse seasonal affective disorder or the “summer blues,” this condition can lead to restlessness, poor appetite, irritability, and weight loss, among other symptoms. Some doctors think this form of depression can be a reaction to higher heat and humidity, noting that their patients have benefitted from traveling to a cooler locale when the condition sets in.
John Sharp, a Harvard psychiatrist and author of “The Emotional Calendar,” has studied the seasons and mental health in detail. He says that, for those who suffer from depression, the expectations of spending time outdoors or resuming social calendars with people now that the weather has warmed can be challenging. For others, a specific event that occurred in the spring or summer, such as a death or traumatic injury, can trigger feelings of depression and anxiety that counter the expectations of the season.
A 2014 study conducted in Austria also found that seasonal variations in unemployment rates as well as the dearth of clinicians available due to summer vacation schedules can contribute to summertime sadness.
Understanding that reverse SAD is a real thing and recognized by those in the mental health profession can be a comfort to sufferers who realize it is not just their imaginations.
Individuals who notice a dramatic change in mood are encouraged to seek help. Talk therapy, medication or a combination of the two can be the right course of action.