Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well known condition where individuals can experience depression during the winter months. However, this condition can actually occur in the summer months as well. This is known as Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, which brings upon symptoms of depression during the summer months. While summer is typically associated with warmth, sunshine, and fun, for those experiencing Reverse SAD, it can be a time of great struggle. In this blog, we will explore the causes, symptoms, and coping mechanisms for Reverse SAD.
Signs & Symptoms of Reverse SAD in the Summer
The signs and symptoms of Reverse SAD during the summer months can be similar to those experienced in traditional SAD, but they can also vary. Individuals may feel a constant low mood, a loss of interest in activities they once enjoyed, difficulty sleeping, changes in appetite, and an overwhelming sense of restlessness or frustration. Physical symptoms may also occur, such as reduced energy levels, a general sense of fatigue, increased sensitivity to heat, and accompanied emotional distress. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms that are specific to summer SAD include weight loss, agitation or anxiety, and increased irritability. While these symptoms may be subtle at first, they can significantly impact one’s overall well-being and quality of life if left unaddressed.
Understanding the Causes of Reverse SAD
The exact causes of Reverse SAD are still being studied. However, several factors have been shown to contribute to its development. The increased sun exposure, which is usually associated with positive mood changes, can have an opposite effect on those who suffer from Reverse SAD. The extended daylight hours and increased sunlight exposure can often disrupt the body’s natural internal clock, or circadian rhythm, leading to imbalances in serotonin and melatonin levels. These levels are vital for regulating mood and sleep patterns, so the imbalances can cause many negative side effects. On top of that, the added heat and humidity can also worsen symptoms and contribute to the development of Reverse SAD.
Coping Mechanisms & Treatment Options
There are various solutions for managing Reverse SAD, including a combination of self-care strategies and professional treatment. It’s crucial to create a routine that prioritizes self-care, in order to lessen the symptoms from this seasonal condition. Some key coping mechanisms and treatment options to consider include:
Establishing a Daily Routine: A standard routine is vital for controlling the symptoms of Reverse SAD. This routine can provide not only stability, but also a sense of control in your life. Aim for a regular sleep schedule, consistent meal times, and routine self-care activities.
Embracing Light Therapy: Light therapy, commonly used for traditional SAD, can also be effective for Reverse SAD. There are lightboxes available that emit bright light that can be used to mimic natural sunlight. These can be useful in regulating mood and helping to restore the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Engaging in Physical Exercise: Regular physical activity is a common mechanism for treating regular depression, and is beneficial for Reverse SAD. Engaging in physical activities that are enjoyable in the summer, such as swimming or walking, can help to boost energy levels and improve overall mood.
Prioritizing Sleep: Establishing a healthy sleep routine is crucial for managing Reverse SAD symptoms. Ensure your bedroom is cool, dark, and quiet, and establish a relaxing bedtime routine. This should involve avoiding electronics and stimulating activities before sleep, to ensure a restful night.
Practice Relaxation Techniques: Relaxation techniques can be extremely beneficial in managing Reverse SAD symptoms. Techniques such as deep breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation can be helpful in reducing stress and promoting overall relaxation and wellbeing.
Maintain a Balanced Diet: A proper diet plays an important role in coping with Reverse SAD symptoms. Focus on having a diet that includes plenty of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats. You should avoid excessive consumption of caffeine, sugary foods, and alcohol, as these can often worsen symptoms.
Stay Social: It’s important to have a good group of friends and family around if you are dealing with Reverse SAD. Try to make an effort to see your loved ones as much as possible, as this can help to maintain a sense of belonging and support.
Seeking Professional Help, if Necessary: If Reverse SAD symptoms are not manageable with the above techniques, it may be helpful to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a therapist or psychiatrist. They can help you explore your emotions, develop coping strategies, and determine if additional treatments may be necessary.
Everyone who struggles with Reverse SAD has a unique experience. It’s vital to find the right combination of coping mechanisms and treatment options that work for you. Remember to be patient with yourself if you are struggling, and to seek professional help if needed.
One of the most important things you can do to combat SAD and Reverse SAD is to get adequate sleep. Sleep helps with mood regulation, energy levels, and stress management.
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To restful and healthy days ahead,
The Relaxium Team
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.