What is Summertime SADness?
My closest friends know that summer-me is grumpy-me: I can’t tolerate the heat, I withdraw into myself, and grow grumpy and irritable as well as starting to doubt not only myself, but everything around me.
However, the moment it rains my mood brightens almost instantly. Come winter I have energy to spare, and a bright and cheery disposition, and am always looking for my next adventure. This is why I moved to Scotland – give me rainy days and stormy weather any and every day and I’ll be the happiest I could possibly be!
Unfortunately, people put this down to me being either weird, or having a depressive disposition, but neither of these are true. The truth of the matter is, just like Lana Del Rey, I have Summertime SADness, or more formerly known as Summer Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder.
We’ve all heard about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), when people become low and depressed during the long, cold winter months, but did you know a small percentage of people suffer from SAD during the summer months?
Although both Winter onset and Summer onset SAD are seasonal disorders, they are actually two separate conditions with different symptoms and causes. Just like Winter and Summer are polar opposites, the symptoms of Winter onset and Summer onset SAD differ widely too: those who experience Summertime SAD don’t feel sluggish and depressed during the summer months, but instead develop insomnia, anxiety as well as depression.
There’s an abundance of theories as to what causes Summertime SADness, whether it’s a disruption of our circadian rhythms, a reaction to too much sunlight, overheating, or perhaps even allergies, but unlike Winter Onset SAD not much time has been put into researching Summer Onset SAD.
Although studies show that just as Winter SAD is more abundant in areas with longer, colder winters, Summer SAD is more prevalent in areas with longer, hotter summers (i.e. Australia!). Yet, the lack of research into Summer onset SAD means that it can be difficult to recognise, diagnose and treat.
Like all forms of depression or anxiety, or any disorder that affects our quality of life, it’s incredibly important to recognise and treat these conditions without being doubted, or thought of as “weird”.
Recognising Summer onset SAD
So, how can we recognise it in ourselves or others during the summer months?
- You avoid making plans or going out, and feel isolated
- You have a negative emotional reaction to sunny days
- You go to bed earlier, but don’t sleep well
- You feel uninspired by life
- You lose your appetite
- You find it difficult to concentrate, or have too many conflicting ideas
- Your emotions become intensified – anger, sadness, even sexual appetite
- You lose interest in your interests
- You’re already counting down to winter!
If you or someone you know recognises the above symptoms during Spring and Summer, yet feel more positive and live a healthier lifestyle come winter, it might be worth investigating further with the aid of your GP.
So, next time one of your friends disappears during summer, just remember, they may not be avoiding you, but may simply have the summertime blues!
And if you find yourself feeling anxious or irritable during these warmer months, don’t forget – Autumn is just 3 months away!
If you want some further reading about Summer onset SAD, this article has a lot of great information.