Seasonal Affective Disorder is a very real condition, much more than the "winter blues." In fact, up to 6% of America's population may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, often abbreviated to SAD. While winter depression is much more common as part of SAD, 10% of individuals with the condition experience depression during the summer months. Those at higher risk include women between the ages of 20 and 40, but it also affects men and children. Think you could be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder? Read on to find out.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many of the symptoms associated with SAD are common with depression in general. These include feeling hopeless, possessing low energy, having trouble sleeping or even thinking about suicide. Summer depression often includes insomnia, weight loss, anxiety and a poor appetite.

If you are coping with depression this summer, these components could affect your mindset:

The sweltering heat is uncomfortable.

Some days are so hot that it feels uncomfortable to do basic activities, like cooking near a hot stove. Sometimes it can be downright painful to go outside. Even the brightness and longer hours of sunlight can feel unmanageable.

Self-esteem can crash in the summer.

The pressure to get the "bikini body" can be overwhelming in the summer, especially because it may seem that everybody around you is wearing fewer clothes as the heat rises. Those who are often embarrassed by wearing shorts or a bathing suit may suffer from more intense feelings this time of year.

Schedule changes cause conflict.

This is especially the case for parents, teachers and anybody else who has a shift in schedule during the summer months. School is out and the kids have different needs than they do during the school year. Because so many people with depression thrive on routine, this can definitely take a toll on those with SAD.

Tips for Coping with Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder

- Melatonin supplements can help you get enough sleep. Additionally, SAD reduces melatonin by inhibiting serotonin, allowing depression to cause insomnia. Fortunately, you can purchase these supplements over the counter.

- Keep up with exercise. Have you ever read of a runner's high? The euphoria you feel after a good workout can combat feelings of depression.

- Make sure to eat. You might be on a diet, but that does not mean you should not be eating healthy and wholesome meals. Eating well does not mean foregoing meals.

For some, relaxation during summer just doesn't seem possible. Getting help from a place like Pediatric Health Associates may be your next step. Depression is never something to push to the side, and therapy or psychiatric medication may help you adjust during these difficult months.