|Windham & Leibovich PC
Heidi Leibovich, LCSW
Scott Windham, LCSW
1016 Greentree Rd Ste#102
Pittsburgh, PA 15220
Is there Any Cure for Those SUMMERTIME Blues?
Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD for short) is a mood disorder that affects roughly 4-10% of the
U.S. Population depending who you ask. Often co-occurring with another mood disorder
(depression, dysthymia, etc) the typical pattern involves a downward trend in mood occurring
throughout the Fall and Winter months. However, for about 10% of SAD sufferers this pattern is
reversed with mood improvement throughout the Fall and Winter and the worsening of depressive
symptoms occurring in the Spring and Summer. Very little is known about what causes SAD of
either pattern, although length of daylight, changing routines, dietary changes and body image
issues have all been hypothesized to play a role. For those who suffer from it though, it's effects are
real and can be dramatic or debilitating.
People who suffer from the effects of SAD in the Summer months often report that they also feel a
sense of shame or guilt about it similar to that reported by those who experience depression during
the winter holidays. After all, this is when you are SUPPOSED to feel happy, energized, and care
free. This sense of dissonance can for some be a barrier to talking about their symptoms with their
friends and family and even sometimes their doctor or therapist, delaying or even preventing the
treatment of what is almost always a very treatable condition.
If you find yourself feeling down, depressed or sad this summer please:
- Reach out for help. -- There are a number of psychological therapies and medications that
can help tremendously with SAD as well as other forms of depression. Talk to your doctor or
arrange an appointment with a local therapist to explore what your options are
- Don't beat yourself up. --SAD and all other forms of depression are legitimate psychological
and medical conditions that have been studied and documented for decades. The idea that
people in the midst of a depression need to "tough it out" or "pull themselves up by their
bootstraps" often only serves to lengthen the duration and severity of the depressive episode.
A depressed person should not be expected to "just pull out of it" any more than a diabetic
should be expected to "just start making some insulin"
- Try your best to stay active and on a schedule. Depressive episodes have the tendency to
cause us to feel weak and unmotivated and to interfere with sleep. This can be especially
difficult in the summer as routines involving schools and other activities no longer require us
to be active throughout the day and sleep at night. Sticking to a consistent schedule or
routine is often a powerful tool that can be used to shorten the duration of any depressive
**If you or someone you know is struggling to beat the summertime blues in the greater Pittsburgh
area, please call Windham & Leibovich at 412-937-0411