Warm Weather Seasonal Affective Disorder

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • It’s spring. For much of the country, the winter just didn’t seem to want to end, but finally, nice weather has arrived. For many people, the nice weather brings a smile to their face and a lift to their step. They feel better and are happier. But for those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), springtime can trigger anxiety and mood changes.


    SAD is mostly known for the “winter blues” and is associated with feelings of sadness and depression during the cold months when there are less hours of sunlight each day. It can interfere with energy levels, behavior and sleep patterns. But although less, common, SAD can impact people during the spring and summer months. An article on South University’s website, “Spring Can Bring Showers of Depression,” symptoms of SAD during the warmer months include anxiety, insomnia and loss of appetite. [1]

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    Causes of Warm Weather SAD

    Cold weather SAD is thought to be linked to an increase in the production of melatonin during the winter months. Melatonin helps regulate the body’s daily rhythm. The decreased light is thought to play a role as well – SAD is more prevalent in Alaska where sunlight is extremely decreased during the winter months. But scientists aren’t so sure what causes warm weather SAD. Dr. Normal E. Rosenthal, author of Winter Blues, says, “The seasonal trigger for summer depression is less clear-cut. Conventionally, the thought has been that they are more sensitive to heat. The question of whether it’s too much heat or too much light has yet to be resolved.” [2]


    Those who live in areas that are hotter seem to be more at risk of developing warm weather SAD. According to the New York Times, there is data indicating that more people who live in the southern United States have a higher rate of depression in the summer than those living in the north. [3]


    Managing Warm Weather SAD

    Limiting time outdoors during the warm weather months can help some people with warm weather SAD. Many may spend most of their time in air-conditioned environments, going from home to car to work and back. Others may find that taking several cool showers helps to lower their internal body temperature and makes them feel better.


    Exercise has also been found to help decrease symptoms of depression and anxiety. Adding exercise to your daily routine and making sure to eat right may help you feel better.

    SAD is considered major depression, with seasonal patterns. For those feeling depressed for more than two weeks, it is best to see a medical professional. Antidepressants can help to ease the feelings, but these medications don’t work right away. Because it may take several weeks to feel the effects, you can’t just take it during the heat of the summer. If you notice a seasonal pattern to your depression, it is best to talk with your doctor to find out if increasing your dosage during certain times of the year will help. (You should never increase your dosage without your doctor’s approval).


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    [2] [3] “Seasonal Depression Can Accompany Summer Sun,” 2002, Aug 13, Sara Ivry, New York Times


    [1] “Spring Can Bring Showers of Depression,” 2012, Darice Britt, South University

Published On: April 08, 2013