Weekly Wellness: Is summer depression a thing?
COLUMBIA- It’s fairly common to address Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter. But did you know that there is depression that is experienced in the summertime too?
Summertime sadness can manifest in many ways. Some people wait for summer and then realize that they had fantasized about it. Thinking that they would do a list of things that don’t materialize. Some people just hate summer – it’s hot and sweaty and stinky and sluggish. It feels like everyone around you is having a great time while you want to sit at home in front of a fan.
Similar to SAD, there is summer-onset seasonal affective disorder (or summer SAD). This disorder follows a seasonal pattern specific to spring and summer. While experts don’t know exactly what’s going on when seasonal changes send moods out of whack, there are theories.
No matter the reason for your sad feelings, taking care of yourself and tending to your moods is important. Here are some tips:
- Acknowledge that it is a thing. Seasonal depression is real. Talk with your physician and learn as much as you can.
- Drop the “supposed to.” As a kid, we expect summer to mean beaches or pool parties or bbq’s or fireworks, etc. Sometimes we feel pressure to make our adult lives live up to the hype of our childhood summers. But why? Maybe your ideal summer is to stay out of the sun and enjoy the TV. If that’s the case, go for it! Try not to focus on what you’re “supposed to” want to do and do what you enjoy!
- Be proactive about meeting expectations. People can have certain expectations for the summer and also have the ability to meet them – but they don’t. That’s ok! Life doesn’t stop for summer. Don’t let yourself down by expectations.
- Stay cool. Various studies have linked high temperatures with depression and agitated moods and increased mental health emergencies. Pay attention to the physical stress that heat can put on the body.
- Limit your exposure to light. Even though sunlight and light therapy can commonly be suggested to ease depression symptoms, believe it or not, for some people light has the opposite effect. There are a number of reasons by someone might have an adverse reaction to increased light (i.e. health issues) but reaction to light could be another culprit to summer sadness.
- Try not to isolate yourself. Social contact is important to mental health. Summer can be a particularly difficult time for dealing with loneliness and isolation. If merely being around people doesn’t do the trick, try to participate in summer sports leagues, classes, etc.
- Know when you need help. Tips like these may not be enough. Depression is depression – if you recognize what you are experiencing is depression, seek help from a medical professional.