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Sunny-day blues: Seasonal affective disorder hits some during Arizona summer

(Flickr Photo/@Jorge Karlz Parker)

PHOENIX — We often think of sunny skies as a big reason to be in a great mood, but Arizona’s summer heat may actually send some residents into a depression-like state.

Seasonal affective disorder – or SAD – affects people in sunny states, such as Arizona, just as much as those that experience drearier weather.

Chip Coffey, social services director for St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center in Phoenix, said the combination of extreme heat and relentless sun can send many Arizonans into a downward spiral when summer comes.

“Everything is physically drained from you,” he said. “The shoulders drop, the head drops and you just feel beaten up. And you just walked out the door.”

Symptoms of summer SAD include losing weight, extreme agitation and sleeping less. There are also classic symptoms of depression.

“There’s the hopelessness, there’s the helplessness, tearfulness,” Coffey said. “If they go on and they’re untreated, it can go into being suicidal.”

Coffey said anyone demonstrating the aforementioned symptoms should undergo a mental health evaluation.

For those who have been diagnosed with SAD or find themselves in an inexplicable funk, Coffey recommended you do your best to keep cool, adhere to a regular exercise routine, stay indoors during the hottest parts of the day and do your best to get at least seven hours of sleep each night.

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