Summer Blues: Seasonal depression affects many in warmer months

Summer Blues: Seasonal depression affects many in warmer months

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

 

It can begin in late spring or early summer.

Major depression with a seasonal pattern, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), happens more in the winter, but it can also strike in the summertime.

"We tend to see it more in winter time because it has to do a lot with the amount of natural light," Andrew Hickman, doctoral intern at the Texas Tech Student Counseling Center, said, "and the effect that has on our circadian rhythm or our natural sleep cycle."

In the colder months, Hickman said shorter and darker days often lead to depression due to the lack of natural light. Natural light helps to regulate serotonin levels, a natural mood regulator, he said. 

In the summer, there is more natural light, which can cause the body to produce less melatonin.

"That's going to have an effect on your sleep-wake cycle," he said, "and in daytime this can have the effect where people will experience angry outbursts sometimes because of the lack of sleep and lack of quality sleep that they're getting."

Other signs of depression include lack of energy, changes in appetite, insomnia, as well as sleeping more than usual.

"A lot of people will mistake it as just kind of a period of sort of the blues or something, but major depressive disorder is something that can be a life-long thing," Hickman said.

It is important to recognize the difference, he said, as major depression can become serious if not treated.

"It really is important to reach out and seek help from a professional, because this can lead to more serious things like suicidal ideation and things of that nature," he said.

About 10 million Americans report suffering from seasonal affective disorder sometime during the year. If you feel you are one of them, medication or therapy can help keep off those summer or winter blues.

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