News Release

June 13, 2006

Contact: Jane Shaskan, 860-679-4777

Summer SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder Strikes Not Only in Winter

FARMINGTON, CONN. – Seasonal affective disorder is usually associated with the onset of winter and the shorter daylight hours. But the reverse of SAD, or summer depression, usually begins in late spring or early summer.

The cause of summer depression is not clear, said Andrew Winokur, M.D., Ph.D., in the Department of Psychiatry at UConn Health Center. “Like winter depression, SAD in the summer also appears to be related to changes in the amount of daylight, but it’s also been suggested that heat is a contributing factor,” he said. “Is it the heat or too much light? We still don’t know that definitively.”

Symptoms of summer SAD include: poor appetite, weight loss, insomnia, agitation and anxiety. Symptoms may also include those similar to winter SAD, and other types of depression, including feelings of guilt, hopelessness or helplessness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, and physical symptoms, such as headaches and stomachaches.

Treatment is not clear-cut, said Dr. Winokur, but maintaining a cool body temperature during the summer, seems to help many suffers. “Moving from one air-conditioned environment to another and pulling down the shades can be beneficial,” he said. “In some cases, anti-depressants may be recommended.”

Mild cases of summer SAD can be minimized with regular indoor exercise and social activities; avoidance of foods high in carbohydrates and sugar; and regular sleep, Dr. Winokur advised.

“Just about everyone feels down or blue at one time or another,” he said. “But if you’re feeling low day-after-day and not enjoying life, see your doctor.”

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