Most people associate seasonal affective disorder (SAD) with the winter, but in fact many people suffer from the summer blues. As many as 25% of American are thought to suffer from some form of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
SAD can be relatively mild or it can be a serious disorder that requires hospitalization. Because SAD is a cyclic, seasonal condition, the signs and symptoms usually come back and go away at the same times every year.
SAD symptoms generally appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the warmer, sunnier days of spring and summer. However, a percentage of people have the opposite pattern, developing seasonal affective disorder with the onset of spring or summer. In either case, problems may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.
Although suicidal ideation occurs less frequently in patients with SAD than in those with nonseasonal depression, it can happen nonetheless. Some people suffer from SAD during the summer, and their symptoms go away during fall and winter. Symptoms of summer-onset SAD include: – Anxiety – Insomnia – Irritability – Poor appetite and weight loss – Manic phases of euphoria and hyperactivity Psychotherapy can be helpful for treating seasonal summer depression.
Although SAD is thought to be related to biochemical processes, mood and behavior can also contribute to symptoms. Psychotherapy can help identify and change negative thoughts and behaviors that can aggravate mood. Psychotherapy can provide healthy ways to cope with SAD and manage stress. People with SAD have similar personal and interpersonal issues as those with nonseasonal depression.
Research has shown psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy, to be an effective treatment for SAD. Many psychotherapists combine a number of other therapies, including light therapy — even in the summer — and nutrition counseling. The antidepressant benefits of light therapy combined with psychotherapy are most beneficial when started within the first few days of onset.