1-805-202-3440

24/7 Confidential Hotline

Friday, June 28, 2019

Summer-Onset Seasonal Affective Disorder

seasonal affective disorder
The seasons and weather have an effect on us all in myriad ways. For most people, the summer and the warm, sunny climes that come with it elicit feelings of joy. Conversely, the colder winter months tend to bring men and women down emotionally.

The days are shorter in the winter which means we are exposed to less sunlight thus depriving us of vitamin D. Researchers believe that vitamin D deficiency impacts our mood; if true, people in recovery need to be cautious from fall to spring.

Many individuals eagerly await the arrival of more welcoming weather. Day after day of being cooped up inside can take a toll on humans. Come summertime, Americans descend upon the great outdoors eager to soak up all the rays possible.

As the summer comes to a close, it’s only natural that men and women begin to dread the return of brisk weather. While the majority of people prefer summer over winter, some do because of psychological reasons. Perhaps you are familiar with seasonal affective disorder or SAD? It is a type of depression that arises from changes in seasons.

The subject of seasonal affective disorder is typically discussed during the colder months of the year. However, SAD can strike during the warmer months as well! With the summer solstice behind us, it is vital that men and women who are susceptible to weather-related changes in mood take steps prioritizing their well-being.

Those in recovery need to keep watch of their feelings. Symptoms of depression that are left unchecked can disrupt one’s program and potentially lead to a relapse. The sections below will cover the characteristics of SAD and what you can do to protect your sobriety from the “summertime blues.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder in Recovery


Regardless of the time of year, experts associate depression, anhedonia, hopelessness, and sleep problems with SAD. The Mayo Clinic points out that there are symptoms specific to winter-onset and summer-onset SAD.

People who struggle during the winter months are more likely to experience:
  • Oversleeping
  • Appetite changes
  • Weight gain
  • Tiredness or low energy
The symptoms that are specific to summer-onset SAD include:
  • Insomnia
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Agitation or anxiety
During the summer, the days are significantly longer; the sun creeps around the edges of the bedroom window shade much earlier. Lack of sleep affects people’s mood, and that can negatively impact the day. Those who are sensitive to light can benefit from purchasing blackout curtains. Naturally, hot temperatures can also influence both sleep and one’s overall comfort throughout the day. Persons with a low tolerance to heat should take steps to stay cool.

Sleep deprivation and general discomfort may not be a big deal to the average individual, but that is not the case for those in recovery. Since many people with substance use issues also contend with co-occurring mental illnesses like depression and anxiety, it is crucial that the effects of SAD are not ignored.

Seasonal affective disorder can be even more punishing to men and women living with mental health disorders. SAD can induce or amplify symptoms of anxiety, depression, and mania. It’s vital when feeling uncomfortable, irritable, or sleep deprived, to talk about it with therapists, sponsors, and support networks. Keeping things to one’s self isn’t beneficial.

SLO County Addiction Treatment Center


Talk with your support group if you are struggling right now. A peer is likely dealing with the same issues, and they can offer some helpful advice. Most importantly, stick to your regular routine as best you can to avoid causing further complications by letting your program slip. Meeting with a professional to talk about summer-onset SAD can also yield effective methods of countering and coping with symptoms.

Please contact the Haven at Pismo if you require assistance for alcohol or substance use disorder. Our highly trained staff can also assist individuals who are struggling with co-occurring mental illnesses.