Are you irritable and not sleeping well? Doctors say that it may be too much sun leading to reverse seasonal affective disorder.
"The same way that we think about seasonal affective disorder as being triggered by not enough light, too much darkness, there are people for whom the perpetual light sometimes either in situations where the daylight is lasting eight, 10, 12 hours or in situations or where it's just sunny most of the time. In some people it can literally trigger a depression," said Joshua Klapow, Ph.D. and clinical psychologist. "For some people, that extra sunlight can trigger a negative reaction."
We have all heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), where short days and lack of sunlight disrupt our circadian rhythms. It leaves 4-6% of the U.S. feeling prolonged sadness and lacking interest through the short winter days, according to the National Library of Medicine. As days get longer in the spring, most sufferers feel more energized and awake.
But, starting the spring, almost two million people feel summer blues the opposite of SAD. Klapow says that most sufferers live closer to the equator. His patients report feeling agitated and anxious, losing their appetite, losing weight, having trouble sleeping violent or explosive behavior.
"We're not exactly sure why, but we think that it does have to do with the longer days and [. . .] too much daylight really interfering with our circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycles, which also affect our moods," Klapow told FOX Weather. "You're talking about things like typically feeling cooped up because it's too hot to go outside, becoming dehydrated, overextending schedules. Those kinds of things really can contribute to that feeling of just not wanting to do anything, not having a lot of interest in things."
Even activities we may consider uplifting can add to the depression. Vacations disrupt work and sleep schedules and eating habits. Having the kids home all day adds more responsibility.
Other factors may contribute too, according to an article by Canada’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), a mental health teaching hospital associated with the University of Toronto. Some might avoid summer activities and vacations due to finances. Others may avoid outdoor activities because of body image while dressed for the heat and humidity.
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There are a few simple suggestions that Klapow has for battling the summer blues:
- Stay hydrated – "Dehydration can make you fatigued, it can depress your mood."
- Don’t over schedule and mind the heat – "In the summer we tend to do more things, and we can really wear ourselves down."
- Get some physical exercise – "Get some physical activity because it's a morale booster."
- Keep up with social connections
- Keep a regular sleep and eating schedule
- Talk to your doctor about it
"We do things when we're sick so that we can get better or when we have an injury so that they can heal. We’ll, we spend a lot of time talking about how to prevent injury and illness, how to prevent heart disease," Klapow explained that people should place as much importance on mental well-being as with medical health . "These are things that we should all be doing to decrease our risk of developing mental health problems and making us feel and live better psychologically, mental well-being."