Depression comes in many forms and can occur at various times in an individual’s life, and for various reasons. Sometimes, depression is caused by changes in the seasons. Although Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly associated with depression experienced during the winter months, it is possible for some people to experience this disorder during the spring and summer too.
As the seasons change, so does a person’s mood. In the fall and winter, the change in sunlight can may cause some people to experience symptoms of depression. The cause of this may be attributed to a change in levels of certain brain chemicals that help regulate body processes like sleep.
Seasonal affective disorder can be linked to factors such as disruptions to the body’s circadian rhythms, which can be caused by a lack of sunlight during the darker winter months. The brain chemicals melatonin and serotonin may also play a role, as a balance of these chemicals is important to keeping the body functioning in its natural circadian rhythms. When this balance is thrown off it may trigger symptoms of depression.
Although SAD can happen during winter and summer, the symptoms vary. During the winter, SAD causes people to eat more and sleep more, while in the summer it may have the opposite effect, causing symptoms like insomnia, anxiety and a loss of appetite. Experts believe that the lack of light is responsible for wintertime SAD, but summertime SAD receives less attention and its cause is currently unknown. Some individuals who are impacted by summer depression may feel that the increase in light has a similar effect to what the lack of light does for winter depressives. Therefore they may find relief in staying indoors more often and avoiding light and heat.
In the United States, 4-6 percent of the population is impacted by SAD. There are certain risk factors that can make some people more prone to the disorder than others. Younger people and females are more at risk for developing SAD, as are those who live in geographical regions that are further away from the equator. Although women are diagnosed with SAD more frequently, their symptoms may not be as pronounced as those experienced by men with the disorder. Additionally, if SAD runs in the family it may make it more likely for others in the family to develop it.
Other factors may contribute to summer depression such as body image issues accompanying a pressure to look good in summer attire or bathing suits. Disruptions to typical schedules may also play a role in throwing off daily routines. If you think you or someone you love is being affected by SAD, treatment can help. A mental health professional can determine an appropriate treatment plan, which may include psychotherapy, medication or light therapy (for fall/winter SAD).
Addiction often accompanies other disorders, making it essential to receive a diagnosis that accounts for all possible mental health issues. The experienced and highly trained clinical teams at Fairwinds addiction treatment centers work with those suffering from addiction, depression and other mental health disorders to created an individualized recovery plan. Founded in 1989 by Dr. M.K. (Khal) El-Yousef, our centers provide the therapeutic counseling, clinical treatment and support needed to facilitate a successful and lasting recovery from these issues. Contact us today to learn more about our comprehensive dual diagnosis treatment programs.