For most people, summer comes with endless adventures. Summertime is filled with hiking trails, ice cream trucks, laying out on the beach, and relaxing in the sun.
However, for some, it comes with seasonal depression.
Yes – you heard me right. While not as common, seasonal depression isn’t only limited to the winter months.
If you begin to feel off, and unlike yourself at the same time every year – even if it’s 90 degrees and sunny, you could be suffering from seasonal depression.
So, how do you beat summer depression?
Let me walk you through what summer depression is, so you can begin your journey in taking your life back.
What Is Summer Depression?
Summer depression is a form of seasonal affective disorder (also called seasonal depression) that occurs at the same time every year and often resolves itself when the seasons change.
Since summer depression is much rarer, it’s often called ‘reverse seasonal depression’ not only for the time of year it occurs but because the symptoms are quite literally the reverse of winter depression.
While winter depression often leaves patients in low moods and creates unmotivated, sluggish, and socially isolated victims, summer depression may present itself as the opposite.
Symptoms Of Summer Depression Include:
- Feeling “on edge”
- Inability to sleep
- Weight loss
- Decrease in appetite
As you can see, symptoms of summer depression often leave those struggling with it in a constant state of uneasiness. This feeling can in turn cause a person to become easily annoyed, frustrated, or even violent.
What Causes Summer Depression?
While it’s much easier to pinpoint exactly what causes winter depression, it’s a mixed bag when it comes to summer depression.
It’s clearly not a lack of sunlight, so what is it?
Researchers in the mental health field have been studying summer depression for years and have concluded it’s often related to one of these cases:
- Schedule changes
- Too much exposure to the sun, causing an imbalance in the circadian system
- Decrease of structure during the day
- Increase in pollen
- Self-conscious body image
- Extreme temperatures
- Feelings of being “left out” of activities
In addition, those suffering from pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder may be more at risk to develop summer depression, as symptoms can peak at the same time every year.
5 Ways To Fight Summer Depression:
If all of this sounds like you, what can you do about it? Are you destined to be sad every time summer break begins?
Take heart knowing that summer depression is not an ‘end all’ diagnosis, and there are ways you can manage it.
1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
Therapy is recommended for any form of depression, but cognitive behavioral therapy can be particularly helpful for someone struggling with summer depression.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a form of talk therapy in which a patient is encouraged to talk about, and recognize their negative thinking patterns and actively redirect them into positive ones.
Not only is CBT effective for addressing negative thought cycles, but it also teaches clients ways in which they can manage their symptoms while actively recognizing triggers.
2. Identify Your Triggers:
This may sound overly simple, but identifying what situations and scenarios exacerbate your summer depression can help you avoid them.
If avoiding them isn’t possible, it can help you learn new ways to manage the emotions as they come up.
Triggers such as body image issues, and the financial burden of summer camps, daycare, and vacations can take a toll on your mental health.
3. Stick To A Routine:
During the summer it can become incredibly easy to slip into an easy-going, overly flexible schedule (or lack thereof).
For a large majority of the population, the simplicity of following a routine can boost your motivation levels and make you feel more put together.
It can be as easy as scheduling meals, medications, and wake-up/bed times.
If you want to take it a step further, you can include activities and self-care regimens into your schedule.
4. Don’t Overheat Yourself:
While you may feel pressure to get outside during the middle of the day, when most of society is out and about, over-exposure to the sun can cause overheating.
This level of overheating can cause many people to feel overwhelmed, agitated, stressed, or depressed.
Mental health professionals recommend staying indoors during the peak of the day to avoid your mood bottoming out.
5. Allow Yourself To Log Off:
Taking a break from social media is a healthy choice any time of the year, but if you suffer from summer depression, it can be incredibly useful to step back during the warmer months.
Logging on to social media can cause feelings of jealousy, envy, loneliness, anxiety, or depression.
There is nothing helpful about consistently watching everyone else living a “perfect summer” but you. (Even though, this is far from the case).
Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Start small. Try one day just to detox your mind. You can up the time frame a little bit at a time as you feel comfortable.
You Can Enjoy Summer Again:
In a world post-pandemic, it can feel difficult to get out into the social scene and enjoy making memories again, even if it is during the sunny months.
However, our world is a beautiful place, and you deserve to enjoy summer just as much as anyone else out there.
If you can take the time, and put in the effort to address your negative thoughts and triggers, and actively choose to redirect them, you will find, slowly but surely, a more positive outlook on life will begin to emerge.
In addition, allow yourself to sit back during the heat of the day and enjoy the air conditioning.
Spending this time scrolling through social media may not be an optimal choice, however.
Instead, choose something creative or worthwhile, such as reading a book, or painting.
At the end of the day, remember, you are not alone, and you can enjoy summer again.