What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Dr. John Lee | August 17, 2022

Seasonal Affective Disorder – Causes, Symptoms and Tips

by Dr. John Lee (National Medical Director at MIND 24-7)

Summer in the Southwest US isn’t always sunshine and pool parties. For some, the summer season is one of stress, anxiety, and depression. According to Psychology Today, nearly 10 million Americans experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

While many people associate SAD with colder, rainier northern states, its prevalence rises in Arizona during the summer. With temperatures averaging 105 degrees during June and July in Phoenix, many Arizonans seek relief from the rising temperatures by staying indoors, leading to a lack of socialization as well as a lack of Vitamin D. This can lead to the development of SAD.

Potential Symptoms of SAD

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite or sudden loss in weight
  • Hopelessness and feelings of emptiness.
  • Loss of interest and enjoyment in usual activities
  • Loss of interest in family/friends and self-isolation
  • Low self-esteem and talking about past failures
  • Thoughts of death and suicide

Given these circumstances, even those who don’t consider themselves depressed may develop stress responses. This year, with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine still in recent memory, stresses are going to be exacerbated. As a mental health provider at MIND 24-7, I’ve seen the increase in patients affected by seasonal anxiety and depression firsthand and how it can affect the whole family. This summer, the two best things you can do is pay attention to your and your loved one’s mental health and seek professional help before it becomes a serious issue. Addressing your mental health is just as important as resolving physical health issues.

Seasonal Affective Disorder can impact a person’s sleeping, eating, and exercise patterns. In the summer months, trying to get outside on a regular basis, even for a few minutes at a time, can impact your vitamin D levels which could affect your mood. Try to avoid isolation and remember to eat healthy foods.

As a mental health professional, I know how important it is to normalize mental health and remove the stigma from seeking help. Just like you go to your primary care physician for a cold or aching knee, you should go to a mental health professional when feeling anxious or depressed. When it comes to taking care of yourself your mental health is just as important as your physical health. It’s okay to not be okay, and if you find yourself stuck, stressed, anxious or depressed, the best thing you can do for youself and your loved ones is to get the help you need.

A Couple Tips for Fighting SAD

  • Light Therapy
  • Healthy Diet
  • Exercise
  • Get Up Early and Get Moving
  • A Regular Schedule
  • Be Social
  • Vitamin D
  • Speak with a mental health professional!

Mental health looks different to everyone and is often more prevalent than you think. Millions of Americans every year struggle with some sort of mental health issue, so it is important to remember you are not alone in your feelings. A simple feeling of being “off” or sad is enough of a reason to look at your options. Immediate mental health treatment is available whenever needed.

MIND 24-7 is an open door to your mental health care, around the clock. Be seen in about 15 minutes by a clinical professional 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no need for an appointment. We are there for you or the one you love at the time of need, regardless of your ability to pay. If you or a loved one need help, call 844-646-3247 or stop by one of our three locations across the Greater Phoenix area today to discuss your options with a provider.

Our Chief Medical Officer here at MIND 24-7, Geriatrician Dr. Sally Brooks, summed it up well when she explained, “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) typically starts in early adulthood, however the risk of SAD increases with age. Women are affected more often than men. Thus, it is important to recognize the symptoms and seek the advice of a behavioral health professional if these feelings persist.”

About the Author

Dr. John Lee

Psychiatrist & National Medical Director at MIND 24-7
LinkedIn Profile

Dr. John Lee is double board-certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine and has a passion for serving the underserved. He currently serves as the National Medical Director for MIND 24-7 a rapidly-growing provider of walk-in urgent mental health care. After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, he proceeded to obtain his PharmaD with high-honors from the University of Illinois Chicago. Dr. Lee then earned his DO from Midwestern University where he was a 4-year National Health Service Corps Scholar (NHSC) followed by a Psychiatry Residency at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center locally here in Phoenix. Prior to joining MIND 24-7 as Chief Medical Director, Dr. Lee regularly saw patients at most of the major psychiatric hospitals and treatment centers in Arizona in addition to individuals in maximum security, on death row, and within immigration detention centers.

About the MIND 24-7

MIND 24-7 is fundamentally changing the landscape of accessible behavioral health by offering walk-in urgent mental health and substance abuse services such as Psych Express Care, Psych Crisis Care, and Psych Progressions. MIND 24-7 fills the gap for those seeking help by being available right when they need it – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Using innovations in value-based care models to improve and expand access to care, MIND 24-7 not only enhances quality patient care, but reduces pressure on the system, reducing costly emergency room visits, in-patient treatment, and readmissions for crisis care. To learn more, go to www.MIND24-7.com.