How to Manage Summer Mood Disorders

Dr. William Beecroft
Dr. William Beecroft

| 2 min read

Dr. William Beecroft, MD, DLFAPA, is medical director of behavioral health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Dr. Beecroft is board-certified in general psychiatry, consultation-liaison and geriatrics specialties. He serves on the Michigan Suicide Prevention Commission.

Thoughtful woman in the park
An estimated 10 million Americans experience seasonal mood disorder (SMD), also known as seasonal affective disorder. It’s a type of depression that occurs during a specific season, consecutively, for two or more years. Most people develop symptoms in late fall and early winter due to the sudden decrease in daylight. Although it’s less common, some can also experience symptoms in the warmer months.

Common Symptoms of Seasonal Mood Disorder

Short winter days can trigger a change in the brain, similar to the hibernation response in animals. This process alters the amount of melatonin the body produces, which causes drowsiness and increases appetite. In the summer, too much sun can suppress melatonin production, which can lead to disrupted sleep patterns. Symptoms that appear in late spring or early summer may include:
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble concentrating, racing thoughts or jumping from one task to another
  • Weight loss
For some people, it is possible to have SMD symptoms and depression at the same time. This can make an individual short-tempered, fidgety and highly irritable. Depending on severity and the person’s own history, this variety of treatment options for SMD are worth considering, as long as you speak to your primary care provider (PCP) first:
  • Aromatherapy
  • Exercise
  • Healthy Diet
  • Medication
  • Psychotherapy

When to see a doctor for seasonal mood disorder

It's normal to feel down some days, but you should schedule an appointment with your PCP as soon as possible if SMD causes you to:
  • Turn to alcohol to cope
  • Lose interest in everyday activities or hobbies you usually enjoy
  • Lose sleep, sleep unusually long or sleep at unusual times of day
  • Lose your appetite
About the Author: William Beecroft, M.D., D.L.F.A.P.A., is a medical director of behavioral health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Read more:
Photo credit: Getty Image

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