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Depressed? It could be all the sunshine

Researchers say all the sunshine most have enjoyed can cause depression much like winter seasonal affective disorder. (AP Photo/File)

With just four hours of rain total since July 22, Western Washington has enjoyed a virtually unprecedented run of sunny weather. But not everyone’s happy about it. Just as our persistent grey can cause seasonal affective disorder, experts say too much sunshine can also cause depression.

Doctors say summer depression only affects about one percent of the population, who tend to sleep and eat less, lose weight and generally experience a heightened state of agitation, NBC News reports.

Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, says summer depression was first recognized back in 1986. He says while first thought to be tied to heat and humidity, it’s also believed to be caused by excessive light that can cause problems with some people’s circadian rhythms.

Dr. Alfred Lewy, a professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, says he’s been successful treating some patients with the hormone melatonin, which can trick the body’s natural cycles into getting back in sync with the sun.

“I can’t tell you have many people have told me that the incessant sun and warmth is getting them down, making them feel anxious or depressed,” says University of Washington meteorologist and Northwest weather guru Cliff Mass in a post on his blog.

But Mass says those who suffer from too much sun can rest easy. He’s forecasting a heavy wave of rain to move into Western Washington by the weekend, bringing up to five inches in the Cascades and Olympics by Saturday night.

“Our dry spell will end in a bang, if not a flood,” Mass writes.

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