Summer Blues in Arkansas: Can You Get Seasonal Depression in the Summer?

July 2, 2024

We all know about the winter blues. Besides bringing about the flu, the winter months bring in seasonal depression for some people. Can you get seasonal depression in the summer, though? Although summer pattern seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is rarer than winter pattern one, it does exist. Some people greatly suffer from the longer days, the heat, and the short nights. This affects their mental health, as they find themselves depressed, agitated, and having trouble sleeping. In this article, you will find out more about summer pattern SAD and how to treat it in Arkansas.

Can You Get Seasonal Depression in the Summer? Understanding Summer Depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD for short, is a disorder that follows a seasonal pattern.

Can you get seasonal depression in the summer? SAD is more associated with winter pattern SAD. However, summer pattern SAD also exists, even though it is statistically less common. Any variations in mood, especially those that deeply affect how you think, feel, and behave, that follow seasonal patterns may qualify as SAD, including those that are associated with spring and summer. Do bear in mind that calendar events like holidays should not influence the mood of the person. SAD is strictly about the changes in the weather.

A sad face drawn on the sand at the beach.
Summer seasonal affective disorders have an overlap of symptoms with both depression and anxiety

Summer-pattern SAD affects people differently than winter-pattern SAD. Treatment also varies, with some options that work well in the case of winter-pattern SAD (taking vitamin D supplements and light therapy) being useless in the case of summer-pattern SAD. The origins of summer-pattern SAD may be different, physiologically speaking, than those of winter-pattern SAD, though scientists are still hard at work trying to prove it.

Any kind of depression should not be ignored or taken lightly. Consulting with professionals from one of the best depression treatment centers in Arkansas can help find the right treatment and alleviate the symptoms of depression.

Causes and Triggers of Summer Depression

There are different theories as to why seasonal affective disorder, both the winter pattern and the summer pattern, happens in the first place. The most prevalent theory for why winter pattern SAD happens has to do with serotonin. A theory that explains summer pattern SAD better and could potentially explain winter pattern SAD has to do with a different chemical, melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone in charge of people having the most energy when the sun is out and feeling sleepy at night. According to this theory, people who have winter pattern SAD produce too much melatonin, and people who have summer pattern SAD produce too little.

A woman looks sad towards the beach in the distance.
Hypotheses around the origin of summer-pattern seasonal affective disorder posit that those who get it do not produce the same amount of melatonin as other people

People with summer pattern SAD report discomfort and distress related to circumstances that summertime brings about. For example, they may complain about excessive heat, which may make it hard for them to sleep at night. The heat may lead them to lose their appetite and eat less. Elevated temperatures could also be an explanation for the aggressiveness and agitation that are more typical of this presentation of SAD. Sometimes, symptoms may be hard to bear. In that case, utilizing the services of a mental health therapist in Fayetteville AR will be beneficial to Arkansas residents struggling with depression.

Prevalence in Arkansas

There is no specific data for the state of Arkansas regarding summer pattern SAD. However, between 2018 and 2019, as many as 16.3% of people aged 12 to 17 experienced at least one major depressive episode. Around 8% of adults aged 18 or more experienced at least one major depressive episode in Arkansas. In addition to these figures, the summers in Arkansas are known to be very warm and humid both in the morning and afternoon. That is why seeking support from Arkansas mental health experts is a recommendation for all Arkansas residents who find it hard to cope with mental health struggles, whether they are caused by weather or something else.

A man looks away from the sun in an outdoor location.
Can you get seasonal depression in the summer? Of course, SAD is not reserved for winter months only

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Some of the general SAD symptoms that apply to summer pattern SAD include the following:

  • Constant depressive, sad, or anxious moods for almost every day for nearly every day for two weeks or more. To qualify for a diagnosis, people need to experience this at the same time of the year for at least two consecutive years.
  • Feeling hopeless or excessively pessimistic
  • Being easily irritated, frustrated, agitated, or restless
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities
  • Decrease in energy, feelings of fatigue
  • Difficulty in concentration, decision-making, or remembering things
  • Changes in both sleep patterns and eating sometimes lead to weight loss or weight gain. Weight gain is more typical of winter pattern SAD, whereas weight loss is more associated with summer pattern SAD.
  • Headaches, digestive issues, and other pain and discomfort that do not have a physiological explanation.
  • Suicidality and suicide attempts.

Specific Symptoms of Summer Pattern SAD

These are some symptoms that only appear in the summer presentation of this illness.

  • Trouble falling asleep, poor quality of sleep, insomnia
  • Poor appetite, which can lead to weight loss
  • Restlessness, agitation, and anxiety
  • Violent or aggressive behavior
A young woman covers her face in displeasure in the middle of a park in a sunny day.
Summer seasonal affective depression can cause a loss in appetite

Coping Strategies and Treatment

Winter pattern SAD is treated in a variety of ways. These include taking vitamin D supplements and light therapy. However, these were not effective for treating summer pattern SAD. This type of SAD is treated either by taking antidepressants or psychotherapy, especially CBT, though DBT can also be helpful. They can be done in combination, but both on their own have shown promising results.

Also, programs like IOP mental health in Arkansas can help you work on these issues without the need for full hospitalization.

Seeking Professional Assistance

Can you get seasonal depression in the summer? The short answer is yes. While winter pattern depression is better known and more common, summer pattern SAD is indeed possible. Some people may get mild to severe depression during the hottest months of the year. Unlike winter pattern SAD, summer pattern SAD is linked to undereating, weight loss, insomnia, and violent or aggressive behavior. If you feel like summer is affecting your mood in a bad way, feel free to reach out for professional assistance.