It is a pleasure, and a rare occurrence these “summer” days, to be outside writing this while enjoying a hot sunny day. Given how summer has been in the Bay Area this year, and how good this albeit brief respite from the fog and cold feels, it is somewhat surprising to me that my thoughts turn to being sad. Well, “sad” not so much as in the human emotion, but more in the manner of Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The following is information from Wikipedia: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a [condition] in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer, spring or autumn, repeatedly, year after year. Symptoms of SAD may consist of difficulty waking up in the morning, morning sickness, tendency to oversleep as well as to overeat, and especially a craving for carbohydrates, which leads to weight gain. Other symptoms include a lack of energy, difficulty concentrating on completing tasks, and withdrawal from friends, family, and social activities. All of this leads to the depression, pessimistic feelings of hopelessness, and lack of pleasure which characterize a person suffering from this disorder.
Although not recognized as it’s own type of mental disorder, but as a modifier of major depressive disorder, it is estimated that Seasonal Affective Disorder affects between 1.5 – 9% of the national population. And I would say, based on anecdotal reports over the last several weeks or so, about 75% of San Francisco feels it. I have heard from clients reporting that their mood has been down and it has been difficult to get out of bed on these foggy, cold mornings. I heard it from a trainer at the gym, who attributed the lack of people working out to SAD.
And while it is true that some good doses of sun are probably sufficient to help reinstate a better mood, still SAD can be a serious condition. Short of moving down the Peninsula or to the East Coast (let’s not forget winter), someone recently experiencing any of the symptoms named above may want to talk to their doctor or a psychotherapist.
The Mayo Clinic defines 3 kinds of SAD. But I think they will have to add a forth: the San Francisco in the summer type. But as I sit in the glorious sun, those foggy mornings seem like a dim memory. And let’s hear it for Indian summer coming this September and October!