Summer blues? What you need to know about summer seasonal affective disorder

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ interview by April Warnecke

Posted on August 15, 2012 at 11:18 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 15 at 11:20 AM

PHOENIX -- You've probably heard of the "winter blues." You might even have experienced them. But seasonal affective disorder -- SAD -- isn't just a winter condition. It also can happen in the summer, especially when excessive heats forces people to stay inside for extended periods of time.

Chip Coffey, the director of therapy services at St. Luke's Behavioral Health Center explained it to 3TV's April Warnecke on "Good Morning! Arizona" Wednesday.

"It's just like the blizzards back East," he said. "We have this bank of heat and sun that we just cease to function outside. … It's something that we have to approach every summer."

As a result, Coffey said, people tend to increase their activity at night. But they also can suffer from depression, agitation, frustration and loss of sleep.

While weight gain is a common symptom of winter SAD, Coffey said weight loss and poor appetite are issues during the summer months. In addition, those affected by winter SAD tend to sleep more. That's the opposite of summer SAD.

"In the later evening times, there's this desire, this urge to do a lot more activities when really, we should be kind of shutting down in the evening times," he said.

Irritability and social withdrawal are also symptoms of summer SAD. Coffey said women and children are generally more susceptible to summer SAD. While about 5 percent of the population is affected by winter SAD, that number drops to just 1 percent for summer SAD.

According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of SAD -- both winter and summer -- tend to start out mild, becoming more severe as the season goes on.

"It's normal to have some days when you feel down," read the Mayo Clinic page dedicated to SAD. "But if you feel down for days at a time and you can't seem to get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is particularly important if you notice that your sleep patterns and appetite have changed …."

When it comes to summer SAD, there are some simple things people can try.

A solid sleep routine is essential to combating summer SAD, Coffey said. Exercise and activities are also important. Coffey recommends yoga classes or other classes where you can be inside interacting with other people.

In addition, staying cool also can help those suffering from

While proper sleep, exercise and social interaction help most people, they don't work for everyone.

"In those extreme cases, people will need to get treatment," he said. At that point, a doctor will have to decide if the issue is a seasonal disorder or chronic depression, which requires different treatment.

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