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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) & Depression - Can It Occur In Summer

Updated on August 1, 2012

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can sometimes to lead into long-term depression. In fact, may are confused on whether or not SAD is just another form of depression. They symptoms can sometimes be identical, so distinguishing between the two can very well be a 'gray' area.

The causes of depression are not fully known. Most likely a combination of genetic, biologic, and environmental factors play a role. Typically, SAD begins in Teen years and early adulthood. More importantly, some people have the disorder their entire life.

Definition: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is episodes of depression that occur at a certain time of the year, usually during winter. A less common form of the disorder involves depression during the summer months. I personally, have the struggle in the rainy spring season. It varies for many.

Symptoms: Increased appetite/weight gain, daytime fatigue, general lethargy, social withdrawal, loss of interest, irritability, unexplained feelings of sadness.

Causes: It can be brought on by extended periods of darkness, cold/body temperature, lack of light and color, hormones, and even genes may play a role.

Ways To Treat SAD

Research is ongoing on whether or not these treatments have proven success rates.This is mostly due to everyone's body reacting to treatments differently. What may work for one, may have no affect on another.

Here are some documented treatments that are tried in coping with SAD.

  • Medication / Antidepressants - There are really no specific drugs designed for SAD patients. General anti-depressants of various types are used. You should discuss any potential medication or treatment with your doctor, as it may not always be the best form of treatment for some people.
  • Natural Remedies - Some commonly recommended herbal remedies for SAD include St. John’s Wort, Passiflora and Skullcap. There are also a number of homeopathic remedies which can be of benefit depending on symptoms and constitutional makeup. Some studies have suggested that certain fragrances or natural oils can aid in mood stabilizing.
  • Good Mood Food - Be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains, poultry, fish, milk and eggs. These are all foods rich in both the amino acid tryptophan and in vitamin B-12, both crucial players in the production of serotonin.
  • Vitamin D - There is talk that Vitamin D deficiency MIGHT play a role in SAD due to lack of sun. Vitamin D supplements taken during the winter months had been recommended by some doctors and researchers of the disorder.
  • Talk Therapy / Counseling - You may not feel better right away from talk therapy, but over time, some people start to notice some improvement
  • Light Therapy - a special lamp with a very bright fluorescent light (10,000 lux) that mimics light from the sun. Be sure to follow your doctor's instructions about how you should use light therapy
  • Enhance Your Environment - This is mostly my opinion and experience. Color can play a huge role in emotion. Try refreshing your home decor a bit. Choose new paint colors that make you smile, buy artificial plants/flowers that bring you comfort. Even some new window treatments and throw pillows can have the slightest affect on how your body reacts to your living space. *Take a look at the images below, one at a time, in separate windows.*

Enlarge and try focusing on this image for at least 60 seconds. Then close your eyes immediately after and note any change or vivid feelings...
Enlarge and try focusing on this image for at least 60 seconds. Then close your eyes immediately after and note any change or vivid feelings...
Now focus on the light and pleasant color in this photo for a good minute or two. Then, close your eyes and note your change in feeling, thoughts and visions.
Now focus on the light and pleasant color in this photo for a good minute or two. Then, close your eyes and note your change in feeling, thoughts and visions.


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