Working in Oregon and Alaska, I see a lot of patients who have issues with seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Most people understand SAD as a depression response to the short, dark days of winter. And indeed, that is the most common form.
But summer SAD is also truly a thing: hot days, unrelenting brightness that makes you think you have to be cheery and energetic, wildfire smoke in certain parts of the country — all of these contribute to seasonal depression in the summer.
Seasonal affective disorder, whenever it hits, has some common characteristics: depression is key, but also over- or undersleeping, anxiety and others. And some of the herbal and, if necessary, pharmacological prescriptions can help both types.
One simple treatment that works well for most types of depression is especially suited to summer SAD: getting into cold water.
The best thing is jumping into a cold lake or river or swimming pool on a hot day. It’s stimulating to the nervous system, helps get sluggish blood pumping, tightens the skin and is generally invigorating. If overheating drags your adrenals and otherwise gets you down, cold water is just the ticket.
If you can’t get yourself into wild water as often as you need — and really, who can? — a shower or backyard hose can do the trick.
There’s clear scientific research suggesting that cold water helps most types of depression. And this kind of treatment is a vitality-building staple of many schools of medicine, including herbalism, naturopathic medicine and many traditional systems.
If cold is too cold, start with cool or neutral. You’ll be able to drop the temps as you raise your vitality with regular sessions.
The first step to alleviating seasonal affective disorder at any time of year is to identify it. Seasonal mood changes are not necessarily pathological, but know that there are ways to make those changes more comfortable.
Want to learn more? This fall I’ll be reprising my presentation on winter SAD. Sign up in the footer to get notified.
And if you’ve got summer SAD and want to talk, schedule an appointment here.
— Dr. Orna
P.S. Being in nature is the best healer. But research shows that just looking at nature can help. Check out my photos on Instagram for some visual relief!