Mental Health, Treatment

Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder

A well-known winter phenomenon, seasonal affective disorder strikes some people in summer. As depression and headache disorders tend to occur together, it’s important to watch out for symptoms. Particularly in summer, when it’s easy to mistake depression symptoms with the sapping properties of heat.

In winter, people with SAD tend to sleep more, have less energy,
gain weight and crave carbohydrate. Summer SAD sufferers usually sleep less, lose weight and have anxiety.

Because summer SAD doesn’t appear to be light-related, as it is in winter, the treatments that are effective for winter SAD don’t work for summer sufferers. Antidepressants and “lifestyle changes” are recommended instead. Examples include swimming in cold water every day, avoiding daylight and heat, and listening to a rain-sounds CD.

The New York Times has another informative article: Seasonal Depression Can Accompany Summer Sun. Mayo Clinic explains SAD’s symptoms, causes and treatments.

8 thoughts on “Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder”

  1. I have Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder. Hate the heat, love the cold. It is not excess light which causes this in me, it is heat; the unrelenting summer heat which bakes in summers and smoggy falls here in Los Angeles. Though I’ve lived here most of my life, I’ll never get used to it. It seems to penetrate my skin with hot little needles. Perhaps I have a solar battery which keeps the heat in to cause lethargy and depression. Fortunately, I’ve never had a headache in my life. One can feel miserable in heat without headaches.

    What I do love is cold. While studying at the University of Vienna, I wore a sweater when the locals were bundled up in thick coats.
    All my life I’ve known that I could tolerate more cold and less heat than most people. If others’ comfort range is between 70 and 90 degrees, then mine is between 50 and 70. In professional Summer SAD literature I have seen nothing written about cold preference.

    This is not “reverse SAD.” Increased sunlight is a factor only in that being in the sun causes the uncomfortable perception of increased heat. It also is not related, for me at least, to barometric pressure.

    I try to pretend that LA winters last all year, but there is no denying the summer heat here between July and October. Meanwhile, my air conditioner is set at 68.

  2. I have always thought it unfair that winter sufferers seem to have a monopoly over the term ‘SEASONAL affective disorder’ and I have yet heard anybody tell me that summer is anything other than a ‘season’ so if you suffer awful symptoms in the summer, like clockwork, it seems to me irrefutable that you suffer from a seasonal affective disorder.

    PS I wonder if barometric pressure plays a role.

    In my case it seems to be only rain that makes me feel like a normal and healthy person.

    Interesting that rain is what seems to help you. Many migraineurs have migraines triggered by rain — barometric pressure is thought to be one of the reasons, though most of the weather-migraine connection is a mystery.


  3. Whatever type of therapy you decide to try in your battle against this seasonal depression, it is important to keep in mind that it it treatable. Tons of people suffer from this disorder and find ways to diminish the affects it has on their bodies. Through proactive techniques such as light therapy, you can even prevent its effects altogether each season. When you see the days start to become shorter, simply turn on your light.

  4. This is so interesting–thank you for posting it. I used to joke about being like this, and never imagined it was a real disorder. This summer I’ve begun having chronic headaches at the end of the day. What I find completely bizarre, though, is that they improve when I walk into a well-lit room, and return when I walk into a room without the lights on. So it gets WORSE in the dark! I have not been able to find any site that addresses this bizarre kind of headache, so if anyone has experienced anything similar I would love to hear about it!

  5. You might want to do some research on using Dawn Simulators as a means of alleviating the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I have both Winter and Summer SAD and using a Dawn Simulator has almost totally eliminated all of my symptoms, without the use of supplements. In the summer I use a blackout curtain with the Dawn Simulator to make the sun rise later for me, keeping my day length fairly constant throughout the year. And it all happens while I sleep


  6. It’s one of the reasons I left L.A. And if we don’t stop having these 90 degree summers in the NW, I’ll have to go further afield. Reyjavik? Edinburgh?

    Air conditioning would make it much easier, but it’s not easy to find in the northwest.

    I’m avoiding Iceland because I’m afraid sulphur will be a migraine trigger for me. Maybe Finland…


  7. Please check out a very recent article in the LA Times (featuring me!) about Summer SAD. I just started a website for SAD focusing right now on Summer SAD, with a support group forum and group.,1,6223923.story?coll=la-headlines-health

    It seems like some people in the group are more prone to migranes and headaches–the sun and heat aggravate them–so I will recommend your website. Can I put a link up on my site to yours? Thanks, Saskia

    This article is what spurred the post. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog.

    I’d love for you to include a link to my site!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *