Summertime Blues

Today is a very hot and humid day. I started thinking about a relatively rare variant of Seasonal Affective Disorder, the summertime blues. SAD affects approximately 4% to 6% of the population. Only 10% of SAD cases involve summertime blues.

Symptoms of summertime blues include anxiety, trouble sleeping, decreased appetite, weight loss, and depressed mood. The symptoms are essentially the opposite of those typically associated with SAD, which include increased appetite, weight gain, and increased sleeping. Both forms of SAD include having a depressed mood.

Women who have poor body images are especially prone to the development of summertime SAD. Summer obviously involves shedding layers of clothing, which is most anxiety-provoking when you lack confidence in how your body looks.

Summertime may usher in changes in our schedules, due to longer days, vacations, and holidays. Individuals who are prone to depression are especially sensitive to these changes. Try to maintain adequate hydration and nutrition, plus engage in regular physical activity.

Trying to remain physically active during the summer months has been especially difficult for me, since my relapsing-remitting MS is extraordinarily heat-sensitive. All of my MS symptoms worsen with only brief exposure to hot weather. For example, simply sitting in the sun for 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient for my legs to go numb; remaining outside for a longer period of time produces difficulty walking, as well as blurred vision.

It’s very important to treat summertime SAD, since it may persist long after summer ends, if untreated. It may actually evolve into a major depressive disorder. Always make sure that there aren’t medical conditions contributing to your increased depression, such as untreated hypothyroidism.

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