Daylight Savings: A Reduction of Depression?

It is time again for daylight savings time! No more darkness at 4:30 p.m. for awhile and instead, brighter days and nights for us all. After a long, cold winter in the Midwest, it is a joy to experience some warmth. For many, daylight saving also brings an upward swing for moods all around.

In previous blog posts we have talked about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is a depressive disorder often brought on by certain weather or time of year when we do not experience enough sunshine. Those who struggle with this disorder often have issues with fatigue, social withdrawal, hopelessness, and common symptoms of depression. This disorder most often occurs during the fall and winter months, but it surprisingly can happen during the spring and summer for some (making up about 10% of those diagnosed with SAD).

For those who struggle with fall and winter SAD, the relief is just around the corner, as most treatment plans involve the use of light therapy (whether that be by a sunlamp or the actual sun). Researchers also suggest exercise, stress management, and eating food rich with complex carbohydrates and omega-3 fatty acids for symptom reduction. Spring and summer months, especially with the onset of daylight savings time, offers more consistent sunlight which helps brighten the mood of many with SAD. Spring and summer sunshine regulates levels of melatonin and serotonin in the brain, two neurotransmitters linked with happiness and depression symptoms.

However, if you find yourself getting depressed during the spring and summer months, you may be experiencing “reverse” SAD! The theory is that those who struggle in these sunny months may be receiving too much serotonin and melatonin in their brains which can cause depressive symptoms. Not much research has been done on this recently discovered “reverse” SAD, but specialists suggest avoiding long periods of time in the sun to limit the increase in those neurotransmitters. The previously mentioned symptom reduction tips are also suggested, except avoiding the sunlamp this time.

If you feel that you relate to either of these, hopefully the above tricks can help even out your mood. Enjoy the longer days brought on by daylight savings time!

Written by Emma, Undergraduate Intern 2021

If you would like to speak to a professional counselor or psychologist about this and are in the Chicago area, please feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder/index.shtml

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-babble/201501/reverse-seasonal-affective-disorder-sad-in-the-summer

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