Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) with a seasonal pattern, formerly classified as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affects nearly 5% of Americans. Most cases of MDD with a seasonal pattern appear during the fall and winter, but there are recorded cases of summertime MDD. If you experienced dramatic mood swings this summer, you may have the condition.
What Is MDD With a Seasonal Pattern?
The National Alliance on Mental Illness represents the condition as “recurrent episodes of depression in late fall and winter, alternating with periods of normal mood the rest of the year.” Research suggests that symptoms arise in response to decreased levels of sunlight in the colder months. Production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that serves many functions including mood and sleep regulation, appears to be partially inhibited in individuals with seasonal pattern MDD. Younger people and women are more likely to experience seasonal pattern MDD than older, male counterparts. Global location also appears to influence vulnerability to the condition; populations closer to the equator are less likely to contract seasonal pattern MDD. Symptoms include oversleeping, overeating, food cravings, hopelessness, and lethargy. A combination of medication and therapy is used to treat the condition. Light therapy, extended exposure to simulated sunlight through a lightbox, is a common treatment for seasonal pattern MDD. Though the majority of cases follow a fall-winter pattern, the summer months can invite symptoms, as well.
Some Triggers for Summertime MDD
Dr. Michelle Riba, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, reports cases of MDD in the summer months, noting that manic episodes often spike during the spring and summer. She lists schedule changes, vacation, psychosocial issues, daylight patterns, and social events as triggers for summer MDD. When one’s routine is interrupted by the conclusion of a professional endeavor, the start of a vacation, modification of the familial dynamic, or increased level of social activity, their sleep patterns fluctuate, making one more likely to develop the condition. Dr. Riba advises people to monitor mood fluctuations during the summer months and consult a medical professional if depressive symptoms persist for longer than two weeks.
At Avalon Malibu, our dedicated team of mental health professionals are here to equip you with the right tools to restructure your sleep routine, combating the effects of seasonal pattern MDD. When you graduate from our facility, you can begin to apply the techniques you learned in treatment throughout your daily life. Our commitment to offering diverse treatment options means that each person can enjoy a unique rehabilitation experience tailored to their individual needs. To learn more about our programs and schedule a consultation, call us today at (844) 857-5992.