And you thought the Internet was making you depressed…
Turns out, there might be another cause to your sadness — summertime.
Yep, you read that right. The SUMMER
Apparently, a form seasonal affective disorder, rather appropriately abbreviated as SAD, strikes some during the sunniest months of the year. Now, we had heard of SAD before, but thought it was only a cold-weather thing — the winter blues, so to speak. But by accident of Google, we were brought this afternoon to a just-published PsychCentral article about summer depression and learned that the things that make summer summer — like pool parties and vacations and stuff — make some people super sad.
About 1 percent of people get summer SAD, compared to 5 percent in the winter. No surprise here, but it might be tied to heat and sunlight. People with it feel annoyed and agitated — they can’t sleep, according to The Telegraph. People who feel down in the winter, on the other hand, usually just feel like sluggish — almost like they want to hibernate.
The disorder was first described in 1984 by Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal, who was then doing research at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Rosenthal elaborated on this, telling us: “The winter people, they overeat, they oversleep, and they gain weight and they’re very lethargic. The summer people have insomnia and they have less appetite and they lose weight. They are more likely to have suicidal ideas than the winter people.”
For the population as a whole, he explained, more people tend to commit suicide during the summer.
“People likely to commit suicide are depressed, but they’re also kind of more energized during the summer.”
For some, he said, it’s not the heat that depressing — it’s the light.
“One of the reports was that the light ‘cuts into you like a knife.'”
According to WebMD, body image issues can also play a role — if you feel bad about your looks, being in scantily clad social situations such as beach outings will suck. Stress can also be a concern; a lot of people feel seasonal pressure to be social and leave town but feel overwhelmed by anxiety.
A lot of the info about summer SAD is inconclusive. Heat might make hormone-releasing glands go haywire and mess with our moods. Some treatments which might help include sunglasses, blackout blinds on windows and cooling blankets for sleeping.
One thing does seem to be certain: “The better the weather, the worse summer SAD gets,” notes the Telegraph.
So maybe it’s not so bad that we’ve had a lot of rain recently?
We also wondered: Did Rosenthal mean for seasonal affective disorder to have such an appropriate acronym?
“Definitely yes!” he told us.
“I wanted something that everybody would remember, so that’s why I called it ‘SAD,’ so the name stuck! And it did, didn’t it?” he said.
But did he pick the word “sad” and work back from that, we asked? How did that happen?
“It’s just a lucky happenstance that at that time, mood disorders were called ‘affective disorders’ so I thought: ‘Oh! Seasonal affective disorder, SAD! And so it kind of fell into place. I didn’t say, ‘I want it to be SAD, I’m going to find words that will make it work.’ I found the names appealing, and thought that the acronym could be admirable.”
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.