Over the past few days, temperatures in Minneapolis have been near 100 degrees with high humidity.
It’s the first real heat wave of the season and it got me thinking about how the seasons and weather affect mood. Winter-onset seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D) is fairly well-known, but, I wondered, are there other versions of S.A.D?
Do some people experience S.A.D. in the summer?
Some research turned up the answer: Summer S.A.D. is a rare but real disorder, affecting just under 1 percent of the population. (Roughly 5 percent of Americans suffer from winter S.A.D.) It’s characterized by anxiety, irritability, agitation, trouble sleeping, and loss of appetite. While it’s widely assumed that winter S.A.D. is triggered by lack of light, researchers don’t yet fully understand what triggers summer S.A.D.
A true diagnosis of summer S.A.D. is rare, but if you’ve ever felt agitated or irritable in the heat, you’re not alone and you’re not making it up! This news made me feel better when I got in my car last night, saw that the thermometer read 104 degrees, and silently wished it was February. (For more on how the seasons affect mood, check out The Emotional Calendar by John Sharp, MD. A psychiatrist who teaches at Harvard, Sharp takes readers through the emotional ups and downs of every season.)