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‘Being Assaulted By The Sun:’ A Look At Summertime SAD

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(credit: CBS) Angela Davis
Angela Davis joined the station in 2006. Angela co-anchors the Sund...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Summer is the season so many of us look forward to after the long winters we have in Minnesota. And when the weather warms up, as it has this week, our parks and pools are packed with people eager to have some fun.

But not everyone is happy with the heat and humidity. In fact, for some folks, it’s downright depressing.

On Wednesday, we looked into something called Summertime SAD.

Living in Minnesota, most of us have heard about seasonal affective disorder or SAD. That’s when people are especially cranky because they don’t get enough sunlight during the winter months and they’re agitated by the cold weather.

Well, guess what? There’s a summer version of it. It affects fewer people than its winter counterpart, but it’s real.

Dr. Alan Steed is a psychologist at the Allina Clinic in Eagan. He works with people who are more than just cranky in the summer.

He sees patients with seasonal affective disorder in the winter and the summer.

“The people that I see, when I first identify … they feel like they are being assaulted by the sun. They will say essentially that. The sun just hurts their skin and they stay inside,” he said. “Then they develop symptoms of depression and/or anxiety.”

A larger number of people are simply more stressed out during the summer months.

And there are plenty of reasons: disrupted routines, financial worries tied to expensive vacations and camps for kids.

“Oftentimes the stress is exacerbated in the summer because the kids are home and activities become much more intense. Parents get less of a break I think,” Dr. Steed said.

For those with summertime SAD, there’s medication they can take.

For people who tend to be more stressed out during the summertime, they just need to learn to be more flexible.

Dr. Steed said that all the activity we like to jam into our schedules during the summer months can make it hard to relax.

“It’s more things to juggle, more things to worry about,” he said.

Dr. Steed said a good remedy is to exercise more.

It will help with all that stress.

He said just getting out and taking a walk each day will help.

About 2 to 10 percent of the population has seasonal affective disorder.

And of those, more people have the wintertime version.

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