Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is commonly associated with the winter — many people can relate to the idea of cold, gray days having an effect on your mood.
Less well-known is the form of SAD that can occur in the spring and summer, times of year generally thought of as full of vitality and possibility.
If you’re experiencing these warning signs during this season, you may wish to investigate whether you have “Reverse” SAD.
You feel depressed, but don’t “look” depressed
Both forms of Seasonal Affective Disorder share common symptoms with Major Depression, including:
- Sadness or numbness
- Decreased self-esteem
- Loss of interest and/or motivation
However, Reverse SAD often has additional features that usually aren’t thought of as signs of depression, such as:
- Lack of appetite
- Agitation or restlessness
Because these aspects of Reverse SAD are often overlooked, you might mistake your experience for something like anxiety or judge yourself for being “high strung” for no identifiable reason.
You feel like everyone’s enjoying life except for you
At the end of winter, many people like to flock outdoors to enjoy the warm weather and get together with family and friends after the long months of isolation.
If you find yourself turning down these activities due to your lack of enthusiasm, you may end up feeling left out. On the other hand, if you power through and ultimately find the experience lacking, you may start to feel guilty for “failing” to enjoy yourself.
School breaks, seasonal changes to work schedules, and planned vacations can shake up your typical routine in the spring and summer time. For some, this is a welcome change, but if you experience Reverse SAD you might find these disruptions more discombobulating than restful.
Spring and summer months can involve celebrations for weddings, graduations, and cultural or religious holidays. Although these are typically intended to be happy occasions, if they tend to bring up social anxiety or family conflict for you they can contribute to Reverse SAD as well.
You’re really impacted by the environmental aspects of spring and summer
As with the better-known form of Seasonal Affective Disorder, disrupted circadian rhythm is thought to be a major cause of Reverse SAD. That means if you have Reverse SAD you’ll likely notice yourself feeling worse as the days get longer and you’re exposed to more sunlight, and start to improve as the days shorten or you spend increased time indoors.
Some research suggests that people with Reverse SAD experience increased symptoms when the pollen count in their area is high. This could be the result of the uncomfortable experience of having pollen allergies, which often contribute to irritability and sleeplessness.
A marked intolerance for heat and humidity could be a sign of Reverse SAD. If your intolerance level is high, you might find yourself avoiding the outdoors and eschewing cooking meals that will expose you to the heat of your stove or oven.
If you have autism, fibromyalgia, or another condition where you can experience sensory overload, some of the physical realities of the spring and summer months may be triggering.
Common experiences or sensations that may overwhelm you and contribute to Reverse SAD include:
- Coming into contact with sand at the beach
- Experiencing crowded, noisy public spaces
- Sweating due to the heat
- Struggling to see in bright sunlight
How to get through
Seasonal Affective Disorder is treatable, just like Major Depression. Starting therapy, enhancing your coping skills and self-care activities, and considering psychiatric medication can make a world of difference.
Take action now to get back to feeling like your regular self again. Click the button below to set up a free initial phone consultation. I’d love to introduce you to my therapy practice and share more about how therapy can help you get through this time.