“In the winter I feel like the whole world is alive and wonderful,” wrote one Reddit user recently. “As soon as spring starts and the days get longer, my mood sinks and I feel horrible again until fall.”
Another chimed in: “I get crotchety as all hell during summer, can’t sleep right, crave things with sugar … more prone to sudden mood swings and fits of frustration, lack motivation, and just generally seem to be in a very low state of mind.”
These are not the typical laments about seasonal affective disorder, the mood disorder that usually causes depression when the days grow short and temperatures drop. But actually, “summertime sadness,” as Lana Del Rey put it, is a rarer version of the same illness. While about 5 percent of people are thought to have the winter variety of SAD, about one percent instead feel depressed in the summer months.
The two seasonal variants make their suffers feel similarly low, but they’re otherwise very different. Those who get depressed in wintertime tend to get sluggish and put on weight, but summertime SAD sufferers lose their appetites and grow agitated.
While winter SAD is thought to be caused by shortened daylight hours throwing off circadian rhythms, its summer cousin is a bit more mysterious.
*Image of “teen” via Shutterstock