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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): How Seasons Can Affect Our Mood And Life

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Can you have seasonal depression (SAD) in the summer? 

Yes! Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can develop during the summer months and is known as summer-onset SAD or summer depression. However, it is rare as most people experience winter-pattern SAD. Research shows that people who live near the equator are at a higher risk of developing summer depression as they live in hotter regions.

Related: The 8 Types of Depression: Identifying Signs and Symptoms

When does seasonal affective disorder (SAD) start? 

SAD typically occurs at the same time each year, depending on winter-onset or summer-onset seasonal depression. Winter depression generally develops during late fall (autumn) or early winter and goes away naturally in spring or early summer. On the other hand, Summer depression appears during spring or summer and ends in fall (autumn) or early winter.

Does vitamin D help with seasonal depression (SAD)? 

Low vitamin D levels, whether due to poor dietary intake or a lack of exposure to the sun, tends to lead to the onset of seasonal affective disorder or SAD. But it is not clear if vitamin D supplementation can be beneficial for overcoming SAD symptoms.

Researchers did not find that vitamin B12 was beneficial for the treatment of seasonal depression. However, one older 1999 study found that as “vitamin D deficiency might play a role in SAD,” dietary supplements of “Vitamin D may be an important treatment for SAD.”

Another 2010 study suggests that “exercising outdoors in the sunshine, eating foods rich in vitamin D, and/or taking dietary supplements to improve vitamin D deficiency could improve one’s mental well-being.” However, further studies are needed to confirm these findings.

Can you have seasonal depression (SAD) and regular depression?

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of major depression with seasonal patterns. Although symptoms of SAD tend to disappear as the season changes, some sufferers can experience recurrent depressive episodes along with alternating episodes of normal moods throughout the year. In extreme cases, someone may experience symptoms of major depression before, during or after experiencing seasonal depression.

Related: 5 Crucial Signs Your Mental Health is Falling Apart

How can seasonal affective disorder (SAD) be treated?

Effective SAD disorder treatment can involve multiple medical approaches, such as therapy, medications and light therapy. Although certain symptoms can improve naturally as the season changes, treatment can make recovery faster and more successful. However, a doctor may take different treatment approaches for winter depression and summer depression. SAD treatment typically includes –

1. Light therapy

Also known as phototherapy, this treatment technique involves exposure to a bright light for a certain amount of time every day, if the sufferer is not getting enough exposure to natural sunlight. It is considered as the first-line of treatment for seasonal affective disorder, especially winter-onset SAD due its effectiveness.

2. Psychotherapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of talk therapy that can also help in the treatment of SAD by changing distorted thought and behavior patterns and improving interpersonal relationships. Cognitive-behavioral therapy & light therapy are “comparably effective for SAD”, explains a 2015 study.

3. Medications

A doctor may prescribe antidepressants for depression and chemical imbalance in the brain, along with psychotherapy and light therapy. Studies suggest that “antidepressants are effective in the treatment of SAD.”

4. Exposure to natural sunlight

A healthcare professional may also recommend that you spend some time outdoors or get some exposure to sunlight by sitting near a window to absorb more vitamin D and relieve common SAD symptoms.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): How Seasons Can Affect Our Mood And Life
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): How Seasons Can Affect Our Mood And Life

What is the best antidepressant for seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been found to be significantly helpful in the treatment of SAD by controlling serotonin levels. One 2011 study has found that second-generation antidepressants (SGAs) like fluoxetine, can be as effective as light therapy in treating seasonal depression. Another 2019 study reveals that “bupropion XL is an effective intervention for prevention of recurrence of SAD.

Related: 6 Antidepressant Medication Myths Debunked To Help Make Meaningful Choices

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Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts