About Summer SAD


Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (summer SAD),  is generally classified as a mood disorder along with winter SAD (see The American Psychiatric Publishing Textbook of MoodDisorders). While researchers still know relatively little about what causes Summer SAD, those who suffer the symptoms thought to be triggered by the increased light and heat during the spring and summer months don’t question that it’s a real disorder. Symptoms include (and can range in severity depending on the individual–you may not get depressed but have other mild symptoms and are irritated by thesummer heat/light, or you may have full blown depression/can’t function):


* Hopelessness
* Loss of energy
* Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
* Difficulty concentrating and processing information
* Agitation/Increased irritability
* Feeling overwhelmed
* Weight loss/poor appetite
* Social withdrawal


These symptoms present as a seasonal pattern of depression, followed by relief during the cooler, darker seasons. I recommend checking out the “Articles” and”Treatment“ sections for more details. Also, here are some reactionsfrom readers to the LA Times article I was featured in, and which prompted the creation of this site. You may simply dislike summer–there are plenty of annoying things about it–but if your dislike of summer begins to physically manifest in any of the symptoms listed above you should consider that you have SummerSAD.

It’s important to make the distiction that summer SAD is a medical condition which is treatable, and not an aversion to summer or personality disorder.  It can be very challening for some family or friends to accept that you feel depressed and don’t want to participate in regular activities while suffering from SAD.  If they can understand it as a medical condition which needs to be managed, then it might aid helping them accept what you are going through and be supportive.  Likewise, it might help you, yourself, to accept that you are not a social outcast, but need to seek help in trying to diagnose and treat the disorder.


Some theories as to what triggers Summer SAD include the effects ofheat and light causing a disruption of hormones and brainchemicals. It is unknown whether heat or light is the greaterculprit.


Summer SAD is often confused with Reverse SAD. It makes sense–I think we all initially want tocall it reverse SAD, because we’re so used to everyonehaving Winter SAD, we can’t but help think of ourselves as oddopposites. However, someone decided, over at Mayo Clinic at least,that Reverse SAD is the term to be used for something specific, andvery non-Summer SAD. Reverse SAD is more of a state of mania orhypomania, rather than depression, experienced during thesummer with the following symptoms:


* constant elevated mood
* enthusiasm that is out of proportion to the event or activity
* hyperactivity
* increased irritability
* increased socialization.


Winter SAD and S-SAD (a less severe form of Winter SAD) occur dueto loss of light during the Fall and Winter months and exhibit thefollowing symptoms:


* Depression
* Hopelessness
* Anxiety
* Loss of energy
* Social withdrawal
* Oversleeping
* Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
* Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high incarbohydrates
* Weight gain
* Difficulty concentrating and processing information


And yes, unfortunately some people have to cope with more than oneversion of SAD during the year! Additionally, many sufferers ofSeasonal Affective Disorder may have a greater chance of developinganother mood disorder such as bipolar disorder, and there is anincreased chance that a relative will also have a mood disorder asresearch indicates a genetic component is involved.