Até bem pouco tempo sentir-se mal no calor do verão poderia parecer uma excentricidade, uma bizarrice, uma postura pedante, uma vontade de contariar...felizmente alguns médicos e pesquisadores resolveram levar a sério nossas queixas e angústias. Faço este blog para pessoas que como eu se sentem mal durante os meses de verão,não suportam o calor e suas consequências.
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sábado, 19 de fevereiro de 2011
Depressão sazonal sob o olhar do sol - Sad at the sight of the sun Kate Corr
Seasonal affective disorder is not just a bane of winter — it can strike in the summer, too
At the first glimpse of sunshine Kerri Simpson retreats indoors, shuts the curtains and switches on her airconditioning unit. Then, while her husband, Gordon, sunbathes in the garden, Kerri will cheer herself up by watching a favourite Christmas DVD, hoping that tomorrow will bring a downpour of rain.
Simpson, a 34-year-old writer, feels down as soon as summer arrives. “Everything is much more of an effort,” she says. “I feel low. But if it’s a rainy or unseasonably cool day my mood lifts. I’ll stand outside in the garden during a rainstorm with a huge grin on my face.”
Simpson, from Newcastle upon Tyne, has always had a strained relationship with the sun. “My family call me the vampire because every summer I retreat to my cave and hide in darkness,” she says.
Simpson avoids exotic holidays. “I can’t think of anything worse than travelling somewhere hot and sunny,” she says. “That’s why I’ve only been abroad once, on a day trip to Boulogne. Luckily it rained.”
Most Britons will find Simpson’s reaction to the sun rather odd. While it’s easy to see why anyone would get depressed in winter — seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a well-recognised condition affecting as many as one in four of the UK population — it’s far more difficult to understand why summer and sunlight can, for some, have the same dispiriting affect.
Yet summer depression is more prevalent than you might think. Experts estimate that about 600,000 people in the UK could be suffering from summer SAD, as it’s known, or reverse seasonal affective disorder, although opinion is still divided on what causes it.
“Summer SAD is poorly understood,” says Roger Henderson, a GP, author and Sunday Times columnist. “One theory is that rising temperatures can affect the hypothalamus in the brain — the hormone control centre — which alters our ability to cope with mental stress.”
American researchers, led by Professor Thomas Wehr, from the National Institute of Mental Health, believe that heat sensitivity and hormonal imbalances play a crucial role in summer SAD. Thyroid hormone production, for example, is suppressed by heat, and low levels of thyroxine can lead to a lack of energy. However, growth hormones and prolactin are stimulated by heat and too much of these can lead to lethargy and low sex drive.
Put simply, symptoms of heat exposure are similar to the symptoms of depression. Perhaps this explains why sun-drenched California and the Gold Coast of Australia are home to the most depressed people in the world. But British summers are notably mild, unpredictable and short. Very, very short. So could summer SAD over here be different from over there?
Dr David Lewis, a chartered psychologist, believes that the answer may lie in psychology. “The number of people in the UK who suffer from a summer depression which is related to a change in brain chemistry is very small,” he says. “I believe summer depression is more likely to be psychologically based.
“When the sun shines we are expected to feel happy, and if we don’t we feel we’re missing out on something that everyone else is enjoying.” But whatever the cause of summer SAD, GPs should be made more aware of it, Dr Henderson says. “Most GPs are now very knowledgeable about winter SAD. In August, however, SAD is probably the last thing they think of, so it’s likely that there are people out there suffering in silence.”
Kerri Simpson certainly feels better for understanding her summer symptoms. “I’ve found ways to cope, but I can’t wait for October,” she adds. “The first sign of frost fills me with absolute delight.”