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July 28, 2021
5 min. read

Summer Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

When the seasons change it can trigger a form of depression in many adults. Seasonal affective disorder usually occurs in autumn, many times getting worse through the winter. It normally passes with the onset of spring.

These feelings are sometimes called “The Winter Blues.” People spend more time indoors due to inclement weather and it gets dark earlier in the day. This can create some mild feelings of melancholy.

SAD isn’t just “feeling a little down.” It’s actually a real form of depression. It can affect how you feel on a day-to-day basis as well as your performance at work. The good news is, treatment is available to assist in your recovery.

summer depression

Can people get depressed in the summer?

There is a form of SAD, although rarer than the wintertime variety, that can be just as significant. Symptoms can begin around late spring or early summer

Understanding Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder

Why do some people feel more depressed in summer? These are a few of the possible reasons. The symptoms of SAD typically occur when the weather gets colder and the days get shorter. But there’s a sector of the population (10%) that gets SAD in reverse. The warmer weather as summer approaches can be a trigger. Sometimes people that live in areas of the world near the equator are more common to experience this kind of SAD.

You might think that longer days and more sunny weather would keep everybody in a great state of mind, but that’s not always the case. Extended periods of heat and humidity could be a potential cause. Some of the symptoms people suffer from can be anxiety, lack of appetite, weight loss, and lack of proper sleep.

patient provider

Causes of SAD in the Summer

Schedules shift and change during the summer months. A reliable routine in your daily life helps those who suffer from depression cope with their symptoms. But more often than not, that changes for some in the summer. Children aren’t going to school every day, and now you have to figure out ways to keep them entertained every day. Or, your college-age children suddenly show up after being absent for nine months. Planning and executing family vacations can be stressful. Work disruption, dietary habits, and sleep can all suffer from these changes.

A large part of the population loves the warm weather. They’re happy lying on a beach or by the pool basking in the sun and enjoying the heat. But many don’t like the warmth of summer. They’d feel much better chilling in the air conditioning. People who once enjoyed going for walks can no longer enjoy one of their favorite pastimes.

The summer heat and humidity are just too much for them when they go outside. Who wants to stand over a hot oven in the summertime? Many people may choose fast food delivery instead of having to cook every night. These lifestyle alterations can all lead to summer depression.

Summer can exacerbate negative body issues. People wear less clothing in the summer and more skin is exposed. Having to wear shorts or a bathing suit can trigger a lot of stress. Everyone is outside gathering around beaches and pools. Feeling self-conscious about your body may cause you to avoid participating in these activities, which can lead to isolation and sadness.

Going outside and having fun are part of summer. But going out can be expensive! There’s also the cost of summer camp for the kids or babysitter fees to watch the little ones when you’re at work. Financial stress can be a major trigger for depression.

coping with summer depression

Tips for Coping With Summer Depression

There are some changes that can help you cope with summer depression. Seek help. Your family physician is a good starting place. They may recommend medication if it may be beneficial along with therapy. It’s better to address these feelings now than to wait until you start feeling worse. Even if you think your depression is temporary and will fade away by autumn, it’s best to deal with it now.

If you experience SAD every summer season it may be helpful to do some self-reflection. Was there a traumatic event from your past that you associate with summer? Maybe a relationship that ended or the loss of a loved one? If there were feelings of depression in previous summers, are you now associating summer with sadness?

Do you feel a certain pressure or “fear of missing out” particularly in the summer when everyone is supposed to be happy and active. If you can get to the root of what’s causing this depression, this could be a first step to breaking free. The summer can affect sleep habits. With days being longer, activities running late into the night, schedules can be altered. Lack of sleep is a common symptom of depression. Take a power nap (less than 20 minutes) when needed and try to maintain a consistent sleep schedule.

summer sadness remedies

Ways to Minimize Summertime Sadness

  • Are you always the perfect host for every event that happens each summer? Have people come to expect you in that role? Don’t allow obligation and tradition to push you into depression just because people have come to expect you to be the go-to person each year.
  • Get ahead of it. If you know you may get summer depression, pay attention to the calendar. If you’re feeling good right now, plan for those upcoming events that you know you’re going to have to deal with. If you’re prepared ahead of schedule your stress level should drop.
  • Exercise is an excellent remedy to combat depression. It releases endorphins and serotonin, promoting feelings of well-being. Try to get out early in the morning or the evening. Set up a cool area in your basement to work out. Join a local gym during summer’s heat. Just don’t overdo it. Working out and dieting to fit into that bathing suit can cause stress. The failure of not reaching your goal can worsen your mood. Eat sensibly, perform a moderate exercise program, and focus on your well-being.

Many times we dwell on where we’re supposed to be instead of enjoying the here and now. There’s no point in thinking that just because summer is here that you HAVE to be happy. It’s better if you pace your life and focus on what it is that’s causing your depression and work to overcome your fears. When in doubt, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional who can help guide you to solutions that are right for you.

Sources: Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms and Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) Symptoms, Causes, Treatments

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