Summer’s here; it’s perfect sunbathing weather. But you’re feeling blue.
When it’s the middle of summer, depression can really feel out of left field. After all, summer’s when we should be de-stressing, recharging, and enjoying some hard-earned vacation days.
But summertime SAD (seasonal affective disorder) is more common than you might think.
What is Summertime SAD?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mood disorder that happens at the same time every year.
Here’s how it works.
Seasonal changes—e.g., kids getting out for summer, leaves turning, atmospheric changes, or cold weather—trigger negative thought patterns or memories that develop into more serious depressive symptoms. SAD can affect people in different ways and at different times of the year.
Most people who experience SAD will start to see symptoms with the onset of fall and winter, Which makes sense—cold weather, less daylight, busy schedules? They can all contribute to anxiety, stress, and melancholy.
Less common, but equally draining, is summertime SAD, which usually begins just as spring is wrapping up.
What Brings on Seasonal Depression in the Summer?
The onset of summer can trigger seasonal depression just like the winter months. But even though summertime symptoms seem more mysterious in nature, there are some common causes you can vet for.
Too much light: While most feel invigorated by the longer daylight hours, for some it has the opposite effect. If you are sensitive to bright light (for example, you experience migraine headaches), summer might reign in a period of irritation and anxiety.
Heat-related issues: For some, hot and sticky summer days can trigger serious discomfort and even distress. Heat-related problems, such as difficulty sleeping and increased fatigue, can exacerbate depressive symptoms.
Seasonal changes and disruptions: The shift in routines, social dynamics, and activities during the summer months can be stressful for some individuals. If a person has difficulty adapting to these changes, it may trigger summertime SAD.
Body image issues: Summertime puts a lot of focus on body image. Social expectations around beach bodies and summer outfits tend to put everybody’s figure in the spotlight. For those struggling with body image issues, the pressure to look a certain way can be emotionally and psychologically punishing.
Allergies: Flowers are blooming and pollen is in the air. That means allergies. Some research suggests there is a link between allergies and mood disorders. Allergy symptoms can also just be bothersome and contribute to summertime SAD in susceptible individuals.
Past negative experiences: For some folks, previous negative experiences during the summer months (such as traumatic events, difficult life changes, or loneliness) can create associations that trigger depressive feelings during subsequent summers.
Changes in sleep patterns: Longer daylight hours can shake up our sleep schedules, leading to sleep disturbances. Sleep disturbances are often linked to mood disorders.
Tips for Coping with Summertime SAD
Dietary supplements that promote relaxation: For centuries, ingredients like Kava Kava, Gotu Kola and Passion Flower have been used for healthy mood support. You can try a mood support supplement like the Natural Balance Happy Camper Herbal Formula to help you feel your best even when the SAD sets in.
Tone down the brightness: If you’re sensitive to bright light or prolonged sun, grab some shade, wear sunglasses, or use a wide-brimmed hat to protect your retinas and skin. In other words, take Lana Del Rae’s advice for summertime sadness and be “dancin’ in the dark.”
Set a regular sleep schedule: Summer vacations can be a great time for staying up and sleeping in. But disrupting your usual sleep pattern can have its consequences. If you’re struggling with SAD, establish a consistent sleep schedule, and create a relaxing bedtime routine to promote better sleep quality.
Practice relaxation techniques: Engage in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation. These practices can help reduce stress and improve mood.
Stay socially connected: Summertime can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation, especially if you're not participating in typical summer activities. Make an effort to stay socially connected with friends and family to combat loneliness.
Monitor and challenge negative thoughts: Pay attention to negative thought patterns and challenge them with more positive and realistic perspectives. Cognitive-behavioral techniques can be helpful for changing negative thought patterns.
Exercise regularly: Physical activity is known to improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Engage in regular exercise, and consider indoor workouts during the hottest parts of the day.Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine: While some people may turn to alcohol or caffeine for temporary mood improvement, these substances can exacerbate feelings of anxiety and depression in the long run. Practice moderation or seek healthier alternatives.