Although summers can be at times hot and humid here at Montreal, yet it is the best time of the year for me. One of the main reasons is that Anna remains at her happiest best during this weather. Her depressions take a back seat and she forwards a lot of enthusiasm and energy in everything she does.
Moreover, I happen to have less number of patients during this time of the year and so I spend a lot of time with my family and often plan a holiday around the summer. This time also I was eager to go to Varadero and spend some relaxing time with my family. But suddenly, it was a call of duty.
A man in his mid-forties came up to me for a check up, as her wife has started to behave differently. After a half-an-hour session with her, I concluded that Mrs. Middleton is suffering from Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. And I decided to put my vacation plans in hold for sometimes, as she was one of the most interesting and challenging cases of Reverse SAD that I had encountered so far.
Before I throw some light on what a Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder is, let me provide you with a quick recap of Seasonal Affective Disorder. As some of you must be remembering, SAD is no ordinary mood swing. As pointed out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual Disorders, it is “a specifier of major depression”.
We know it by quite a lot of name like winter depression, summer depression, winter blues, summer blues, or seasonal depression. The individuals suffering from this type of mental health, is found to have depressive conditions in summer, autumn, winter or spring for years despite having normal mental health throughout the rest of the year.
Now, you must be wondering what a Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder can be? No, it is not the other way round or elimination of SAD, but in reality, the depressive mentality and mood swing that happens in individuals during the summer time of the year is known as Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The cases of Reverse SAD are particularly important for me, because I find it quite interesting that just around the time, when the dull, dark and cold months are over, and there is every reason to be happy and cheerful in the bright and warm sun, some individuals find it hard even to crack a smile.
I gathered that Mrs. Middleton has been suffering from this mood swings for two years now, but they were not given much importance, until this time, when her agitation and irritability have increased along with a significant weight loss. Talking of the symptoms in Mrs. Middleton’s case let us find out, what are the various other symptoms of this mental sickness.
Symptoms of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
The symptoms of Reverse SAD are both physical and emotional. With my own personal experience, I have taken the help of the Cleveland Clinic and reputed author Barbara Melville to forward the following symptoms of this mental illness.
- Lack of sleep, Insomnia
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- Increased Sex Drive
- Lack of interest in any otherwise enjoyable activity
- Out of proportion thoughts and speech
- Suicidal thoughts
However, to be officially eligible for diagnosis by Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder, you must fulfill all the four following criterions.
- The symptoms mentioned above should be prevalent during the summer seasons; it would be better, if it starts in March that is spring.
- The symptoms should decrease with the advent of the fall.
- The symptoms should occur at least for two years in a row, with no similar signs in the rest of the year.
- The number of this mental episode should outnumber certain other episodes in your lifetime.
Now, I hope with this list in front of you, you will be easily able to find out, when you are having Reverse SAD, so that you can consult a doctor at the very early stage. But in order to find a cure to some thing, it is very important to learn about its causes. Similar is the case with Reverse SAD; until you know the reason behind it, it is impossible to find a proper cure to it. So let us now find out the causes behind it.
Causes of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
The major drawback in determining the causes of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder is that it has been in the forefront only recently and therefore information regarding causes of them is not yet vividly known. Since, winter depressions are strongly linked with the lack of sunlight; therefore, it can be assumed that disturbing mental condition during summer occurs in the presence of too much sunlight of the summer season.
It is but a proven fact that changes in daylight do have the capability of changing the body’s regular system of sleep, appetite and mood. This is because, an increased daylight usually can increase the serotonin levels and simultaneously decrease the melatonin level; the direct effect of which is reflected in positive mood changes and more energy.
These changes are very striking and more extreme and sometimes problematic too for people with reverse SAD. Some recent research also pointed out that SAD has a genetic implication – where about in 29% of the cases of U.S.A., it is an inherited trait in families. Researches are going on in order to find out more accurate and straightforward causes of Reverse Sad, which will help in more effective treatment.
Prevalence of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
How, this segment is important because understanding of Reverse SAD will be incomplete if we have no idea regarding the places and the individuals who are affected by it the most. It is estimated that around half a million individuals suffer from Reverse SAD, of which in USA alone, the percentage is around 1%.
The patients of this disorder are particularly from hotter climatic regions and like other depression cases; it is also mostly suffered by females. You may say that 1% is but a very nominal number, but my experience says that the true number of patients and their particularities are unknown as people are still not comfortable with coming forward with it.
There is a tendency to overlook this problem and in most cases, individuals try to manage the symptoms themselves without any medical guidance.
Only thing that you are left to know in case of Reverse SAD, are its ways of treatment. So, let us not delay any further and find out, how cases like that of Mrs. Middleton can be treated.
Treatments of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder
Individuals under the affect of Reverse SAD, have a significant negative impact on their lifestyle which deteriorates significantly. But, since the causes are not yet clearly determined, therefore, there are little ways known to us, the therapists to cure Reverse SAD. But thankfully, there is still hope. Researchers have found out a few possible treatments in case of this disorder. Let us find out what they are:
- Sufferers must try and avoid exposure to daylight. It will help you to have lower energy levels so that you can have a better sleep at night. Thus, it is better to stay in low light or less exciting environments after early evening.
- Psychotherapy and counseling can be an effective procedure to come out of this disorder. Patients have reported that much of their Reverse SAD symptoms were eradicated after sessions of psychotherapy and counseling. This procedure can be the sole treatment you are partaking to or can be availed along with other ones.
- To calm down the excessive energy and agitation that are common in Reverse SAD, you can try relaxation and mind exercises. A regular cool shower will also be helpful.
- Try to maintain a moderate and disciplined lifestyle. Exercising, moderate alcohol consumption, regular eating and sleeping patterns are those self-care patterns that can help you to lessen the intensity of the symptoms of Reverse SAD.
- Anti-anxiety medications or sleeping aids can be helpful also in reducing the symptoms of the Reverse SAD. Antidepressants will help to lift your mood by changing levels neurotransmitters such as serotonin.
Antidepressants may take several weeks to show effective results on your mental disorders. Therefore, doctors may suggest starting medications in late winter, just before the symptoms start to surface themselves.
It has been seen that in Winter SAD and non-seasonal depression, a healthy diet, regular exercise and talking treatments have been helpful; but whether they will be effective for Reverse SAD also or not, is yet not clearly known.
It is my personal advice that you do not neglect the signs of Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. As soon as they will start to show themselves off, you must consult a physician.
Only he will be able to help you out in this situation. Apart from that try and find reasons to be happy. Because, if you are not happy, how will your family enjoy the beauty of life in the warmth of summer?