Reverse SAD

Ever since the weekend, we’ve had the most glorious cool, breezy, overcast weather here in Korea, a sudden and unexpected and very very welcome relief from the relentless sun.

Always, when the first whisper of fall comes, I experience this strange feeling as though I’ve had my head underwater for ages and suddenly I’ve come up gasping and I can finally breathe again. But I didn’t even know my head had been underwater all that time. Like the frog boiling in the pot analogy, summer s l o w l y tries to drown me, so slowly that I don’t even realize it until it’s over.

In the last few years, as I repeat this experience at the start of every fall, I’ve wondered if I have a mild form of reverse SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

Normal SAD means that a person has a tendency to become depressed in winter because they are heavily affected by the cold, the shorter days, and especially the lack of sunlight. Biologically, this happens because of sudden, prolonged changes in melatonin, serotonin, and sleep cycles, but I think it has a deep emotional component as well.

The lesser-known and less common reverse SAD is just what it sounds like (the complete opposite of SAD) – a tendency to become depressed in summer due to heat, longer days, and too much exposure to sunlight.

Again, that’s the biological explanation. Emotionally, for me, it just feels so oppressive and that makes me feel sluggish and exhausted. (I also frequently get heat/sun-related headaches, so that doesn’t help.)

Let’s just say “Summertime Sadness” is my jam from June-August. (Not the poppy, upbeat Cedric Gervais radio edit – but the original, which actually sounds like its title. Sad.)

I wouldn’t characterize what I experience in summer as depression per se, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have a deficiency of endorphins in the hot months. To frame it positively, I’d say I just have a proficiency of them once it gets cool and cloudy. My optimism, motivation, and energy levels skyrocket. Gray days, rainy days, and cold days get my blood pumping.

Anyway, that’s enough for now about (reverse) SAD. Maybe someone can recognize this phenomenon in themselves. The most comforting part about it is that you know your season of choice is coming if you just hang in there a little bit longer.

p.s. there may or may not be more blog posts coming this week. i make no promises.


3 thoughts on “Reverse SAD

  1. Annemone says:

    Oh my goodness – yes, absolutely! My coworkers make (gentle) fun of me because I start my own version of hibernating in the summer (I think it’s technically called ‘aestivation’). I just start sloooowing down, both physically and mentally, and trying to find the coolest, darkest corners of the office to squeeze myself into. It’s like trying to think through a layer of cotton wool.

    I love your analogy of not realizing you’re underwater until autumn hits and you realize you can breathe. I spend most of June/July/August dreaming of those first whispery cool breezes of fall…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dad says:

    Hi! Another great post, I really enjoyed it. Although I like all seasons (including the summer heat), I understand your reaction and relief. I get a welcoming feeling at the first real symptoms of the new seasons as they arrive: The first sunny, really hot day of summer, the first cool breezy day of autumn, the first hint of snow in winter, and the first day of spring that carries the smells of earth and new greenery. I’m lucky, they are all my favorites! 🙂

    PS. I liked that song too !

    Liked by 1 person

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