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Summer Blues

With Summer finally here, schools are out, vacations begin, and the relaxed pace of the season chases away all of our Winter blues. With the damp and cool Spring behind us, most people are enjoying the longer days and warm weather. Right?

Well, not everyone. While it is true that Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects more people in the Winter months (ninety percent of those with SAD), an estimated ten percent suffer during the sunny Summer months. Overall, SAD affects about 4-6 percent of the population-but I think it is more than that.

Characterized in Winter by depressed mood, lethargy, and often, weight gain, treatment typically consists of bright light therapy, vitamin D supplementation, exercise, psychotherapy, and for some, medication. I also recommend keeping your living and working spaces well lit, and generally creating an atmosphere of light and comfort with candles, flowers, music, and healthy eating. Exercise is extremely helpful (and is for all types of depression and anxiety)

With Summer SAD or Reverse SAD, the onset of longer days, rising temperatures, humidity, and outdoor activities in the blazing sun brings on a  depressed mood, anxiety, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Sleep patterns are often disrupted too.

Effective treatment for Summer SAD includes supportive psychotherapy to learn and enhance coping skills, exercise early or late in the day to avoid the bright sun and heat, and occasionally, medication. Many people find relief spending time indoors in air conditioned sanctuaries where the use of cool drinks, shaded windows, and indoor activities and exercise help them feel comfortable. Longer days often mean a disruption in eating patterns, so eating healthy is important. Planning activities and utilizing coping strategies helps to minimize the stress and anxiety often associated with Summer SAD.

With the help of a skilled psychologist, you or your loved one can learn how to not just endure but truly enjoy the Summer season. SAD is highly treatable and now is the time to kick those Summer Blues for good.

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