by Christy Gualtieri
One of the best parts of summertime as a kid was always getting to stay up later than I normally did. My parents were pretty strict about bedtimes during the school year, but when we were on summer vacation, it wasn’t uncommon to sit outside on the lawn, surrounded by neighbors and pleasant conversation, until after 9:00pm (which to us 8-and-9 year-olds, may as well have been midnight!) We’d try to catch fireflies and wait until the streetlights turned on before even thinking about heading inside, unless the mosquitoes drove us in first!
I mention this because the longest day of the year, the Summer Solstice, just occurred, and it’s also my husband’s least favorite day of the year. When I asked him why – he loves to be outside as much as possible, and I know he’s grateful for the lasting sunlight in the evenings to tend to our garden after work – he just told me:
“Because it all goes downhill from here. Every day will get shorter and shorter now, even if you can’t tell at first.”
You can imagine how much he looks forward to the Winter Solstice!
According to the US National Library of Medicine, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, affects up to 20% of the adult US population. SAD, a form of depression that affects people during changes of seasons, is a very real disorder that has been classified as such in the DSM. It mostly affects people in the autumn and winter months, but can also be felt in the spring and summertime. Its symptoms, including feeling depressed, having low energy, and having trouble sleeping, can wreak havoc on a person’s mood and greatly affect their general well-being. There is no definitive source yet for what causes SAD (although it is widely believed to have to do with the change in the human body’s circadian rhythm), but there are ways to take care of yourself if you do find you have it.
I myself do not suffer from SAD, but I’ve noticed a marked difference in my attitude when Daylight Savings time began this year. When we moved the clock forward and our evenings grew longer and the days filled with light, I noticed my mood shift upward. I was inclined to feel happier, and a bit more hopeful, too.
If you’ve noticed yourself turning inward and feeling more depressed as the summer days go on, or if you know that you tend to become more irritable and have a harder time sleeping once the cooler autumn months set in, speak with your doctor about SAD. You do not need to suffer alone!
Until next time, be well!
Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and son, blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com, and tweets @agapeflower117. Follow PghPsych on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates, inspirational quotes, articles, and different events and causes related to good mental health!