How to overcome summer seasonal affective disorder
With summer temperatures in Arizona escalating to more than 100 degrees, seasonal affective disorder is plaguing Arizonans across the Valley. SAD is linked to the changing of seasons and is more common in warmer climates such as Phoenix, due to the annual triple-digit temperatures and close proximity to the equator.
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According to a 2022 Psychology Today article, SAD is estimated to affect 10 million Americans per year, and another 10 to 20% may have a mild case of the disorder. SAD is four times more common in women than in men and those who have bipolar disorder. Some people experience symptoms severe enough to affect their quality of life and six percent require hospitalization.₁
As a licensed naturopathic physician in Arizona, it is very common to meet patients during the summertime who have symptoms that relate to SAD. Red flags can include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss, anxiety, episodes of violent behavior, restlessness and agitation, which usually last between four to five months per year.
Although a lack of sunshine is never an issue for the state of Arizona, those choosing to avoid the outdoors are at a higher risk of developing seasonal affective disorder. The extreme heat can take an enormous toll on our bodies and overall health. Low levels of vitamin D and high temperatures pose a negative impact on people’s moods as they may experience fatigue, anxiety, intense sadness, irritation or insomnia.
On the other hand, a large amount of sun exposure during the summer can also stop melatonin production which can cause SAD. This fact is important to understand, because melatonin is the hormone that drives your sleep-wake cycle. Longer summer days mean fewer for your body to produce this important chemical.
While millions of Americans suffer from SAD, many may not recognize they have it. Because of this, it is important to find a healthcare provider who can educate you on the disorder, teach you the best ways to manage stress, find healthy coping strategies and understand how to stay positive during the summer months.
For most people, staying cool, taking part in regular physical activity, having an adequate sleep schedule and socializing can assist in reducing symptoms. Many people find it useful to start treatment before symptoms would normally begin in the fall or winter, and then continue treatment past the time symptoms would normally go away.
For any questions regarding SAD or other health, wellness or mental health concerns, please visit www.naturopathicgroup.com or call (480) 451-6161 to make an appointment.
If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Please call your provider, go to an emergency room, call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. This national network of local crisis centers provides free, confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress and is available 24/7.
Author: Dr. Steven Katz is the owner of the Naturopathic Physicians Group located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Dr. Katz is a Licensed Naturopathic Physician trained in IV therapy, neurological conditions, pain management, digestive disorders, and restorative treatments. He takes the time to educate his patients on their health, as he understands that this is the best approach to long-term success. Dr. Katz’s passion for naturopathic medicine does not stay isolated to the clinic. He is the former President and Treasurer of the Arizona Naturopathic Medical Association. Currently, Dr. Katz host’s a weekly live radio broadcast called “Your Health is Wealth” located on Money Radio 1510AM/105.3FM. His clinic Naturopathic Physicians Group has been treating a wide range of health challenges since 2004. For more information or to make an appointment, visit naturopathicgroup.com.