Blue skies, the deep blue sea, and blueberries might not be the only blues you experience this summer. Because, while the summer months are what we wait all year for, they can potentially bring you down. Though we look forward to vacations, warm weather and sunshine, a relief from the cold, and the ability to be outside – these aren’t guarantees of summertime happiness.
You may know of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It affects about 4-6% of US residents. SAD usually leads to depression in winter due to lack of sunlight, cold, and short days. But about 10% of sufferers get SAD in reverse. Summer can actually causes depressive bouts. In fact, countries closer to the equator seem to have more cases of Summertime SAD than winter. Just because it’s nice outside doesn’t mean you feel bright and sunny.
How can summer make someone sad and rundown? There are a few possible causes and symptoms of Summer SAD:
• Disrupted sleep schedules
• Issues with body image
• Money troubles
• The heat
• Change in routines or different stressors
So what should you do if you’re feeling depressed?
If sadness is disrupting your life – no matter what time of year it is – talk to someone. Schedule an appointment with a therapist, psychologist, or social worker. Even seeing your regular doctor might be a help. Don’t ignore symptoms because even summertime SAD could lead to longer lasting depression. Even temporary depression can be awful – don’t force yourself to “tough-it-out” until Fall. Keep in mind the effect that your mood and well-being has on others around you. If your depression gets out of hand even only for a short time, things like your relationships or your job could suffer.
Worried about summertime SAD? Try these:
• Plan ahead to reduce stress
• Make sure to sleep
• Keep exercising – change your routine to early morning or evening to avoid heat or join a gym – a short term membership might be worth the cost
• Don’t overdo dieting and fitness because that will make you unhappy and anxious (practice moderation in everything you do)
• Stand up and protect yourself – if you’re feeling stressed or burdened take a step back and share responsibilities with others
• Think about why you might be depressed – if you associate bad feelings/memories with the season you might be able to work through them.
• Don’t let vacation get out of hand – don’t do things you don’t want to to appease someone else and remember that staying home might be a less stressful alternative than going out,
Sometimes if you’re already depressed summertime can make it worse – you made need a new dose of meds that can be readjusted when it’s Autumn.
Bottom line: don’t beat yourself up – nothing is wrong with you, don’t get into habits of negative thinking about yourself. Consider psychotherapy or medication – both are helpful in treating SAD.