How To Treat Summertime Seasonal Affective Disorder
The first step is diagnosis. To be diagnosed with SAD, you need to experience depressive episodes that happen during specific seasons for at least two years in a row.
Treatment for SAD usually involves the use of psychotherapy and antidepressant medications, and, because many people with SAD often have vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation.
Treatment for summertime SAD, in particular, is not well established, Hoffmann says, but she says there are a few things that may help.
Could My Depression Be Seasonal
Some forms of depression come and go, so it can be hard to tell the difference between major depression and SAD. If your symptoms occur regularly every autumn or spring, lifting when the seasons change again, this could indicate seasonal depression. Depression is serious, and regardless of which type you have, its important to speak with your doctor about your symptoms and treatment options.
The Seasonal Patterns Of Seasonal Affective Disorder
Not surprisingly, everyone felt a little worse in the winter months, which is completely normal. Few patients felt that January was their best month or that July was their worst month.
Patients with Seasonal Affective Disorder showed the most striking pattern, reporting feeling happiest in June and July, while feeling the worst from December to February.
Top Questions and Answers
How Does Sleep Relate To Mental Health
There’s a close relationship between sleep and mental health. Living with a mental health problem can affect how well you sleep, and poor sleep can have a negative impact on your mental health.
“Poor sleep leads to worrying. Worrying leads to poor sleep. Worrying about sleep is like your mind trying to fight itself. That’s a horrible place to be.”
Our Helping Hand In Treating Affective Disorders
Port St. Lucie Hospital specializes in mental health services and is located on 20 acres near the beautiful Savannas Preserve. If you or one of your loved ones struggles with a mental health disorder, we are here to help.
Our 24-hour mental health services are provided by licensed professionals in various disciplines. We tailor our programs to our patients needs and will help you every step of the way.
We welcome you to our facility. From support groups to individual therapy treatment options, we are here to fight the battle with you. Reach out to us online today and take our free mental health screening. You can also call us at 772-335-0400 to begin your journey toward recovery.
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Treatments For Affective Disorders
Affective disorders can be treated with medication or therapy. Usually, both of these treatment options are used together.
Antidepressant medications are available in many forms. It may take several attempts before you find a medication that helps relieve the symptoms and does not have a lot of side effects.
Treatment includes both medication and psychotherapy. Your disorder can be managed through it and possibly changed but possibly by changing your behaviors that contribute to it.
There are supplemental approaches that can be used to treat certain forms of depression along with therapy and medication. Supplements such as vitamin D and lamps that emit light are two examples.
For over-the-counter supplements, consult your physician.
The doctor may also prescribe lifestyle modifications, such as regular exercise, proper sleep schedules, and healthy eating habits. Medical treatments should not be supplanted by these, but these can help them.
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What Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider
If you have SAD, ask your provider:
- What treatment is best for me?
- How can I prevent depressive episodes?
- Will light therapy work?
- Should I take an antidepressant?
- When should I start treatment?
- How long should my treatment continue?
- What can I eat to improve my symptoms?
- What else can I do to feel better?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that happens every year during a specific season, usually winter. Symptoms can include a lack of energy and feelings of hopelessness. Fortunately, theres treatment for seasonal depression. Talk to your healthcare provider. The provider may recommend a special lamp for SAD. The lamp emits bright light to improve symptoms. Antidepressants and talk therapy can also provide relief. If youve had seasonal depression in the past, talk to your provider about starting treatment before symptoms begin.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/07/2020.
How Is Depression Diagnosed
Depression can only be diagnosed by a medical professional, so people experiencing symptoms of depression should talk with their doctor, counselor, or psychiatrist. They may ask about the severity of the symptoms and how long theyve persisted. They may also suggest tests that can help them to better understand your situation and monitor changes or improvements over time.
A provider may also refer patients to a specialist in sleep disorders to help determine if there is an underlying sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea or restless leg syndrome, that may be causing depression or contributing to symptoms.
What Causes Problems With Sleep
The things that affect our sleep differ for everyone. They can include:
- stresses or worries for example, issues with money, housing or work
- problems with where you sleep for example, if you sleep somewhere uncomfortable or you’re easily disturbed
- health conditions relating to sleep, also known as sleep disorders
- being a parent or carer
“It’s not possible to relax if you don’t have anywhere comfortable and safe at night. This leads to not sleeping and worrying most of the night.”
If problems with sleep are worrying you or affecting your day to day life, it’s a good idea to see a doctor who can give you a health check and help you access treatment and support. If you fill in a sleep diary, you could take this to your appointment to show your doctor.
“My sleep problems are more a case of bedtime procrastination than insomnia as such and, as a consequence, being too tired the next morning. I still haven’t found out what works for me as I can get to sleep once I do get to bed.”
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Have Your Vitamin D Levels Checked
Since less skin is exposed to sunlight during the colder months of the year, vitamin D levels tend to drop, which could leave you more susceptible to depression, fatigue, and a host of other ailments. A simple blood test can detect your vitamin D levels, and your doctor can determine whether you could benefit from taking a supplement, and if so, what the proper dosage might be. For some people, maintaining adequate vitamin D levels throughout the year is enough to reverse seasonal affective disorder. Here’s how to continue getting your daily dose of D after summer.
Difficulty Concentrating And Brain Fog
Brain fog is also a symptom of depression and seasonal affective disorder, in which the patient has difficulty thinking, understanding and remembering information . Depression causes hormonal changes in the brain, which affect memory and concentration. Researchers note that depressive thoughts are related to memory and concentration on a day to day basis .
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Concern As Temperatures Rise
When asked by doctors and researchers, people with summer seasonal affective disorder usually say that what bothers them most is the heat and humidity. Each persons exact pattern may differ Ms. Ashlys symptoms usually start in May and vanish in October but the disorder returns regularly. Still, even the researchers who study summer SAD said there are other uncertainties around it.
What causes summer SAD? We assume its heat and humidity, said Kelly Rohan, a psychology professor at the University of Vermont. Studies suggest that some of the same compounds in the body that help regulate mood, such as norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine, have also been linked to regulating body temperature. But what is the trigger that makes people vulnerable? she said.
An added challenge for the people who experience the disorder is the social pressure to feel summery when the sun is shining. People are used to the idea of mental health struggles during the winter, said Blessing Dada, 21, a student at Technological University Dublin in Ireland. Ms. Dada has experienced a deep sadness that comes on each summer, along with insomnia and migraines made worse by heat.
People tell her, Its summertime, you need to smile a bit more, be more happy, she said. Comments like that are just not helpful.
Holiday Depression Anxiety & Stress
- Many factors, including unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and excessive commitments can cause stress and anxiety at holiday time.
- Certain people may feel anxious or depressed around the winter holidays due to seasonal affective disorder , sometimes referred to as seasonal depression.
- Headaches, excessive drinking, overeating, and insomnia are some of the possible consequences of poorly managed holiday stress.
- Those suffering from any type of holiday anxiety, depression, or stress can benefit from increased social support during this time of year. Counseling or support groups can also be beneficial.
Although there is no specific diagnostic test for the illness, it is understood that since it is a form of depression, the symptoms of the condition include tiredness, fatigue, sadness or a sense of general discontent, crying spells, irritability, apathy, trouble concentrating, body aches, loss of sex drive, poor sleep, decreased activity level, and appetite changes, particularly overeating, especially of carbohydrates and weight gain. When the condition occurs during the summer, the symptoms are more commonly insomnia, poor appetite, and weight loss, in addition to anxiety, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and crying spells. Social isolation, with the potential resulting loneliness, also occurs at times with summer seasonal affective disorder. If the condition is severe, it can be associated with thoughts of suicide.
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Lifestyle Causes Of Insomnia
Lifestyle Habits. Lifestyle habits that can contribute to insomnia are not having a regular bedtime routine, not having a comfortable or safe sleep environment, and using technology before bedtime are all examples of things that can give you sleep problems.
Lifestyle habits, such as consumption of nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol can also lead to insomnia.
If you have insomnia, its important to take a look at what may be causing your sleeplessness.
Insomnia can lead to a number of problems including daytime fatigue, poor job performance, worsening symptoms of anxiety or mental illness, or accidents while driving. If left untreated it can lead to more serious health conditions.
Fortunately, whatever it is thats causing your anxiety can likely be corrected, and many times without medication.
If youre having trouble sleeping and think you may have insomnia, your doctor can help you figure out the best treatment for you.
Causes Of Affective Disorders
The exact cause of affective disorders cannot be precisely defined. However, many mental health professionals and other researchers believe that it is a result of both genetic and environmental factors.
For example, mood disorders can be passed down from family members who also have mental illnesses, but additional contributors may also be linked to the development of these issues.
Moreover, many researchers and mental health professionals believe that mood disorders and other mental illnesses stem from a chemical imbalance. This imbalance occurs when there is an abnormal number of neurotransmitters, the chemicals that assist in nerve-cell communication.
Research shows that the chemicals that naturally produce within our brains and throughout our other bodily systems are extremely complex. In the event that any one of the twenty complex neurotransmitter systems glitches, the chances of developing conditions like affective disorders significantly increase.
This would account for the proven physiological manifestations of affective disorders. Additionally, it explains the genetic predisposition in certain patients for whom affective disorders run in the family.
Yet, the same fact holds true that, while mental illnesses can certainly be passed down throughout generations, environmental factors might act as a type of catalyst to set off the symptoms of these affective disorders.
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Whats The Link Between Seasonal Affective Disorder And Chronic Pain
If you have chronic pain, you probably already understand the ways pain can affect your mental and emotional health. Thats why behavioral health care has become increasingly necessary for pain management practices. According to Harvard Medical School, researches have discovered that pain, anxiety and depression may share some biological mechanisms. In other words, chronic pain, anxiety and depression are all linked and must be treated together. With increased risk of depression comes increase risk of other related conditions. Because of this, those with chronic pain and depression may be more prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Imbalances Of Serotonin Melatonin And Vitamin D
It turns out seasonal affective disorder and melatonin, serotonin, and vitamin D levels are related. People with SAD have been found to have an imbalance of serotonin, a chemical in one’s brain that affects mood. It’s also been found that their bodies make too much melatonin, which regulates sleep. Thus, explaining why those with SAD sleep so much. They also do not produce enough vitamin D, which is essential to function appropriately.
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How To Get The Help You Need
Your best first step is to consult your healthcare provider or sleep specialist about potential sleep and mood disorders. They can help you diagnose your problem correctly and then refer you to the healthcare professional best suited to treat your problem so that you can get your mood and your sleep back on track.
Tip : Reach Out To Family And Friendsand Let Them Help
Close relationships are vital in reducing isolation and helping you manage SAD. Participate in social activities, even if you dont feel like it. It may feel more comfortable to retreat into your shell, but being around other people will boost your mood. Even if youve retreated from relationships that were once important to you, make the effort to reconnect or start new relationships.
. Or reach out to someone newa work colleague or neighbor, for example. Most of us feel awkward about reaching out, but be the one to break the ice.
Join a support group for depression. Sometimes, just talking about what youre going through can help you feel better. Being with others who are facing the same problems can help reduce your sense of isolation and provide inspiration to make positive changes.
Meet new people with a common interest by taking a class, joining a club, or enrolling in a special interest group that meets on a regular basis. Whatever you choose, make sure its something thats fun for you.
Volunteer your time. Helping others is one of the best ways to feel better about yourself, expand your social network, and overcome SAD.
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Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms
SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder not only affects one’s mental well-being but their physical condition as well. It’s essential to understand seasonal depression symptoms as well as seasonal affective disorder causes. Understanding these two aspects can better prepare you for handling this condition.
How Common Is Seasonal Affective Disorder
About 5% of adults in the United States experience SAD. It tends to start in young adulthood. SAD affects women more than men, though researchers arent sure why. About 75% of people who get seasonal affective disorder are women.
About 10% to 20% of people in America may get a milder form of the winter blues.
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Risk Factors For Seasonal Affective Disorder
Some people are more likely to develop seasonal affective disorder than others. Some of the factors that make this condition more likely include:
- Your family history. Youre more likely to develop SAD if one of your family members suffers from it.
- Your mental health history. If you already have depression or bipolar disorder, the symptoms may worsen with the season and be classified as seasonal affective disorder.
- Your location. People who live far from the equator, where the balance of light and dark changes radically throughout the year, are more likely to suffer from SAD.
How Is Seasonal Affective Disorder Treated
Your provider will talk to you about treatment options. You may need a combination of treatments, including:
- Bright light therapy, using a special lamp, can treat SAD.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy : A type of talk therapy called CBT can also effectively treat SAD. Research has shown that CBT produces the longest-lasting effects of any treatment approach.
- Antidepressant medication: Sometimes, providers recommend medication for depression, either alone or with light therapy.
- Spending time outdoors: Getting more sunlight can help improve symptoms. Try to get out during the day. Also increase the amount of sunlight that enters your home or office.
- Vitamin D: A vitamin D supplement may help improve symptoms.
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What Is The Prognosis And Potential Complications Of Seasonal Affective Disorder
People who receive treatment for seasonal affective disorder in a timely way tend to recover well. However, as with other forms of major depression, seasonal affective disorder is a risk factor for developing a number of other mental-health symptoms and disorders, engaging in self-mutilating behaviors or taking one’s own life. People who suffer from this illness are also more vulnerable to having troubled relationships, low performance at school or work, and for developing some medical and substance use disorders.