Some Summer SAD experiences

FROM: #2400

Summer Depression ... Fog & Clouds?
Date: Sep 1998

Ed M. wrote ...

Hello All -

Re: ... symptoms very much like those I've read for Seasonal Affective Disorder ... but in the summertime. It is all there, particularly the seasonal pattern extending over a number of years.

We live on the coast in Central California, which despite what the Chamber of Commerce might like you to think, doesn't have the world's best summer weather. Chilly coastal fog, the kind that San Francisco made famous, blankets the area for 25-28 days each month in June and July, and in bad years, August. Though the Scot in me tries to think of it as fine spring weather, I have to admit that 50-60 F, gray overcast skies, fog and dampness, and blustery winds don't exactly make it pleasant to be outside.

... from anyone else who has had weather-related SAD symptoms in the summer[:] Do the standard treatments work?

... Any comments appreciated,
Ed M.


From: Paul K.

Well I don't quite understand it, but my seasonal depression has two phases.

From November through February, I have the standard winter depression symptoms - difficulty concentrating, carb loading, sleepiness, irritable, etc.

Then for a 3-4 week period in June-July (when the light I am exposed to is at a maximum) I experience a second kind of depression in which I am a little hyper, have trouble concentrating, dwell on negative experiences, and have trouble with anger.

This isn't exactly what Ed was discussing but I wonder if other people have this kind of trouble.



Hi Paul,

What Ed described sounded to me like what is commonly called "winter depression" occurring in the summer. Since it's about light, not really about season, that can happen in cloudy places (like here in Seattle, where I live). It's treatable with light therapy - at least, as treatable as winter depression in the winter is (which is to say, light therapy works for the majority of people. Anti-depressants, St. John's Wort, and dawn simulators are also effective for many people).

What you describe experiencing in the summer sounds a lot more like "summer SAD." The distinction is less a matter of symptoms, which can vary (though yours are pretty standard for summer SAD), than of weather conditions. If you're reacting to a sunny environment, it's not winter SAD.

For most people, summer SAD seems to be a reaction to the combination of heat (not necessarily especially high heat - my threshold's about 75) and humidity, though some people have posted to this newsgroup that it's the other way around for them (i.e. dry heat makes them miserable, but they're fine in humid heat). Unfortunately, even less is known about summer SAD than winter SAD, and I haven't heard of any treatment for it, other than sticking to air-conditioned environments, or otherwise trying to keep yourself as cool as possible (I wet down my hair and clothing frequently, and drink a lot of caffeine to get me through warmer work days).

Some sources claim it's uncommon to have both winter and summer SAD, but European studies have found that many people have both, which is consistent with the number of people I've encountered online who have both.

Anyway, my experience is much like yours, summer and winter, plus during cloudy summer weather, I can have winter SAD symptoms, so that I'm experiencing both within the same couple of days. I'm planning to relocate soon, and have considered very carefully where I can get maximum relief from BOTH SADs. I've chosen the Bay Area (East Bay, away from the fog), where summers are cooler than here in Seattle, and spring, winter and fall are sunnier - also days stay a bit longer in the winter.

The SW would have been another option, but I'm really partial to greenery.

Hope this helps.



From: Paul K.

That helped a lot - thanks. I wonder why two different shrinks couldn't explain this "Summer SAD" to me. By the way, for me it was the same in a dry Phoenix heat as in a wet Midwest heat.

Is there anywhere in the world that is 60 degrees and sunny year round? ;-)

Paul =====================================================================

31 May 2000
I was extremely interested to read about the people who still
suffer symptoms in the summertime. I live in the North of
England, where summer lasts for about two weeks. This means I
have SAD all year round.
I take two sunshine holidays a year, which do help, but I still
need my light box therapy and anti-depressants all year round.
I look around at people in the street and wonder what it is like
to be able to wake up in the morning or not to feel tired all
the time.
It is reassuring to think there are others like me all over the


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