A mood disorder known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a form of depression that comes and goes according to the calendar. People with SAD feel depressed at the same time every year. For most, this disorder manifests during the short, dark days of winter when a lack of sunlight dampens the person’s mood. But small minorities of Americans experience another form of SAD, called reverse SAD, and they feel blue during summer. Specialists think that reverse SAD could be caused by over-exposure to sunshine or it may be a reaction not to the sunshine itself, but to high heat.
Relation to Bipolar Disorder
The way SAD manifests itself differs depending upon whether it shows up in winter or summer. For this reason, among others, some experts have connected the condition with another mood disorder; bipolar disorder. In one sense, a person could view SAD as evidencing one end or the other of the bipolar spectrum. People with winter SAD show more of the depressive symptoms associated with bipolar while those with summer SAD evidence more of the manic symptoms.
People with summertime SAD may experience: insomnia, anxiety, irritability or agitation, hopelessness or guilt. Unlike other forms of depression which usually lower a person’s libido, people with summer SAD may actually experience an increase in sex drive. Headaches can also be a symptom of SAD.
Winter Versus Summer
The chief difference between winter and summer SAD has to do with energy. Those with summertime SAD tend to be more energetic while those with winter SAD have low energy and are uninterested in even pleasurable pursuits. Connected to the difference in activity levels is the difference in weight change. Summer SAD often leads to weight loss while winter SAD often produces weight gain.
The other big difference between the two is that winter SAD may improve with light therapy while summer SAD doesn’t get better by sitting indoors in the dark. If you find that you experience depression every summer that seems to get better when fall rolls around you may have summer SAD. This kind of disorder only improves with counseling along with possible medication. If this describes you, call Family Guidance today and talk with an expert.