It’s hot, you’re tired, and you haven’t been feeling great this summer. Perhaps school’s out and you have nothing to do, or perhaps your kids are the ones out of school and the stress of having them home all day is more overwhelming than you expected. Perhaps you’ve got the blues from working all day, feeling sluggish, and hardly having the energy to do much after work. You may even feel that you’re supposed to be having a great time during the summer. The sun’s out & everyone else seems so happy & carefree while enjoying their vacations and taking great pictures that seem to only remind you of how much you’re missing out.
Some people deal with a condition known as summer-onset seasonal affective disorder (commonly referred to as summer SAD), a type of depression that follows a seasonal pattern specific to the spring and summer. SAD affects about 4% to 6% of the U.S. population. SAD typically causes depression as the days get shorter and colder. But about 10% of people with SAD get it in the reverse — the onset of summer triggers their depression symptoms. Below are specific symptoms of summer depression.
- THE HEAT In the summer, seasonal depression can mean agitation and restlessness.
- APPETITE LOSS Changes in appetite and weight in the summer might mean the heat is throwing you off.
- ISOLATION If it seems like everyone else is out having fun and enjoying their summer, while you’re frustrated and no longer interested in these activities, it could be depression.
- ANXIETY If vacation preparation is more stressful than relaxing or if planning dates with your friends result in you experiencing anxiety, something might be wrong.
- TROUBLE SLEEPING Sleep changes, such as insomnia are a common symptom for all depression. Long days of summer sun might exacerbate these problems.
Seasonal affective disorder is diagnosed more often in women than in men. And it occurs more frequently in younger adults than in older adults. Also, sunlight availability can cause fluctuations in melatonin and serotonin levels, and our brain chemicals can deeply impact a variety of mental health disorders. For example, low levels of serotonin transmission in particular areas of the brain have been linked with depression.
An adequate amount of sleep and exercise are recommended to improve depression. If you’re feeling depressed, it can be difficult to get yourself off the couch, much less exercise, but the days you feel least like exercising are the most important days to get out and do it. Exercising regularly may help to ease depression and anxiety by releasing the body’s feel-good chemicals called endorphins. Exercise also triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. Finally, exercise may reduce insomnia by its effects on circadian rhythms (body clock).
For people with insomnia due to the timing of their body clock, exercise may shift its timing depending upon the time exercise is performed.
Symptoms of depression should never be taken lightly. If you suspect that you might be dealing with summer SAD, in addition to exercising, talk with your therapist, to see what treatment plan may be right for you.
At CWC Coaching, our team consists of licensed therapists, life coaches, and counselors. We assist clients with self-improvement, career development, negative self-talk, psychological pain, self-sabotaging behavior, past hurts and finding your purpose. If you are ready to increase your self-awareness and happiness, breakthrough limiting behavior and understand your purpose in life, we’d love to help guide you on this journey.