Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also referred to as major depressive disorder with seasonal pattern, is a type of depression that occurs around the same time each year. SAD often begins in fall, when the clocks turn back and the days become shorter. In these instances, people may experience a variety of SAD symptoms, including:
- Feelings of depression that occur most of the day, almost every day
- Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and/or shame
- Low energy
- Lack of interest in activities that a person previously enjoyed
- Appetite changes
- Weight loss or gain
- Increased irritation and/or agitation
- Suicidal thoughts
A lack of sunlight is one of the primary drivers of SAD symptoms. Less sunlight in fall and winter months sometimes disrupts a person’s circadian rhythm. In doing so, the body’s production of serotonin, a feel-good chemical in the brain, is affected. And as a result, an individual may be more prone to SAD during fall and winter months.
SAD symptoms may start in fall, linger into winter, and start to subside in spring. There are also various risk factors associated with SAD, such as:
- Gender: Research indicates women are four times more likely than men to experience SAD
- Family History: People with a family history of depression are more prone than others to SAD.
- Past Depression Diagnosis: If a person has received a depression diagnosis but notices his or her depression symptoms worsen at specific times during the year, this individual may be dealing with SAD.
- Age: Adults in their 20s and 30s are more susceptible than older adults to SAD symptoms; meanwhile, children and teens sometimes experience SAD symptoms as well.
SAD is problematic, but there are lots of ways to treat this problem. Common SAD treatment options include:
- Medication: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are antidepressant medications shown to help some SAD patients alleviate their seasonal depression symptoms.
- Light Therapy: Light therapy involves daily exposure to artificial light to help replace diminished sunlight in fall and winter.
- Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy, commonly referred to as talk therapy, enables an individual to meet with a mental health counselor and discuss SAD Then, this individual and his or her counselor can work together to find the best way to combat SAD symptoms.
- Vitamin D: Some research suggests vitamin D supplementation helps treat SAD symptoms; conversely, vitamin D is rarely used on its own to address seasonal depression.
In addition to SAD, seasonal depression sometimes occurs in summer. If a person knows how to identify the signs of “reverse SAD,” he or she can manage summertime depression symptoms.
Reverse SAD: What You Need to Know
Reverse SAD, aka summer SAD, causes people to experience depression symptoms in summer, with symptoms subsiding in fall and winter. It occurs due to excess sun exposure that increases the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that affects the sleep-wake cycle. Some researchers believe the high temperatures of summer may contribute to summer SAD, too.
Additionally, people dealing with summer SAD may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
Several factors may trigger reverse SAD symptoms, and these factors include:
- Schedule Changes: Teachers, landscapers, and other professionals with seasonal occupations may need to adjust their schedules in summertime. Therefore, seasonal professionals may be more susceptible than others to summer SAD
- Vacations: A summer vacation provides an opportunity to relax. But in certain instances, the costs associated with a summer vacation may lead to seasonal depression symptoms. In addition, anxiety and stress associated with summer travel may increase a person’s risk of reverse SAD
- Daylight Patterns: Long summer days can affect a person’s circadian rhythm, and ultimately, put him or her in danger of experiencing summer SAD
Summer SAD treatment options vary, and common treatment methods include:
- Spending Time in Darkness: People who experience reverse SAD symptoms sometimes benefit from prolonged periods in movie theaters or other dark rooms.
- Staying in Cold Temperatures: Summertime temperatures often lead to increased air conditioner use, and people dealing with reverse SAD may benefit from extended periods in air-conditioned rooms.
- Seeking Out Professional Help: Summer SAD is complex, but doctors are available who can help individuals uncover the root cause of their seasonal depression symptoms.
If you experience SAD or reverse SAD symptoms, it is paramount to explore all of the treatment options at your disposal. Remember, depression symptoms are treatable, and consulting with a doctor offers a great starting point to address these symptoms before they escalate.
A doctor may recommend medication, psychotherapy, or other depression treatments to alleviate SAD. Also, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy is available to help individuals treat their depression symptoms.
How Does TMS Therapy Work?
TMS therapy is a revolutionary depression treatment that involves the use of a covered magnetic stimulating coil placed strategically on a patient’s head. During a TMS therapy session, the coil delivers a magnetic field through a patient’s skull. This field creates a current that stimulates neurons in the brain responsible for mood.
A typical TMS therapy session requires about 20 minutes to complete. Upon completion, a patient can resume his or her normal activities. TMS can be used in conjunction with your existing medication and therapy routine.
Furthermore, a TMS therapy program usually requires five treatment sessions per week over the course of six weeks. As a patient undergoes TMS therapy, his or her progress is closely monitored. And by the end of a TMS therapy program, a patient will be better equipped to manage his or her depression symptoms, as 70% of TMS patients report significant symptom reduction, with 40% of those patients experiencing complete remission from their depression.
Schedule a TMS Therapy Consultation Today
TMS therapy may be beneficial for people dealing with SAD, reverse SAD, or other forms of depression. At Achieve TMS, we offer free consultations to people who are considering TMS therapy to treat their depression symptoms. Our expert team is happy to meet with patients and discuss TMS therapy. We also perform an in-depth patient evaluation to determine if an individual is a good candidate for TMS treatment.
Don’t wait to treat your depression symptoms — schedule a free TMS treatment consultation with Achieve TMS so you find out if TMS therapy is right for you. To book a TMS therapy consultation with Achieve TMS, please call or text us today at 877-247-0101.