When researchers surveyed about 1,300 Old Order Amish, they found that the small group of people who felt the worst in summer also tended to report that high pollen days made their mood worse. Previous work with college students has also suggested a link between summer moodiness and pollen sensitivity.
Although more research is needed to understand how pollen might be linked to summer SAD, Dr Postolache said: ‘When you’re feeling your worst, it relates very well to day length in winter’ and “to heat and pollen for summer difficulties”.
How to track your mood through the seasons
A difficulty in detecting SAD is its transient nature. Once autumn came, Ms Ashly said: ‘you forget everything.’ Even without seasonal affective disorder, other stresses can trigger depression during the summer, such as being detached from the school structure.
Tonya Ladipo, a licensed clinical social worker and founder of the Ladipo Group in Philadelphia, suggested keeping a mood diary to track your moods and look for patterns. This helped Mrs. Ashly and her therapist recognize her summer SAD cycle. If a bad mood doesn’t improve within about two weeks, Ms Ladipo recommended seeing a mental health professional – and getting help right away if you’re thinking about harming yourself.
If heat dulls your mood, Dr. Rosenthal said some of his patients have found that frequent cold showers or baths can help. others have felt some relief walking early in the morning. Sometimes intense summer light, as well as heat and humidity, can be problematic. decreasing exposure with dark glasses or curtains may also be worth trying.
“If those things help, then do them,” Dr. Rosenthal said.
Ms Ashly said she keeps a small misting fan by her desk, takes cold showers and runs her wrists under cold water to help cool her down. On particularly difficult days, she goes to her parents’ house and works in the basement, she said.
For winter SAD, researchers have found that cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of talk therapy, can help. A clinical trial with 177 adults compared it to light therapy, a well-known SAD treatment, and found that both significantly improved the way people felt. Dr. Rohan plans to develop a similar therapy for the summer form of the disease. She recommended reaching out to a professional to figure out if what you’re experiencing is related to the season or some other source — and, most importantly, to find ways to help you feel better.