Why do some people experience depression in the summer?
Believe it or not, seasonal affective disorder, usually associated with wintertime blues, actually applies to summertime depression as well.
The harms of summer SAD are hardly ever talked about, yet many feel these effects on a day to day basis, myself included. Instead of the lethargic and empty feelings present in winter, those with summer SAD have a different set of symptoms. They are restless, irritable, have trouble sleeping and eat less than usual. While summer is supposed to be a time for carefree fun, those with SAD feel a certain pressure to have that fun. Bathing suit season is a terrible time for someone not comfortable in their own skin or the lack of a structured routine that was present in school months leaves them feeling aimless and useless.
For those with summer depression, it can seem like all is lost until August and September when things pick up again. However, there are many ways to handle summer SAD so that everyone can enjoy the sunny months.
1) Making Lists
This can be very simple, but having some kind of structure in place makes a huge difference. What I find helpful is to make a list or five things to do for each day the night before. It doesn’t have to be any big activity either. For me, the five things I have listed for tomorrow are to go to my retail job, cash a check, finish a Faulkner novel, buy waffles and walk my dog. I physically write my lists on post-it notes and cross off things I’ve done throughout the day. This makes me feel like I’m being productive and not sitting around all day.
2) Have a Summer Routine
Again, no need to stress about having a super detailed routine. Getting a summer job helps with getting structure to keep summer depression in check. On top of that, setting aside little time blocks for the same activity every day keeps a person active and feeling in charge of themselves. For me, I walk my dog around the same time each day, wake up at the same time and eat lunch at the same time. Without classes and meetings to constantly attend I get some idea of how my day will be. Planning can help relieve anxiety and gives people something concrete to look forward to the next day.
3) Regular Sleep Schedules
This kind of goes along with the routine thing, but sleeping at around the same time every night puts your body in a healthy rhythm. Getting enough sleep is important year round. During the summertime, you have Memorial Day, Fourth of July and other outdoor activities that make summer an incredibly busy time. Don’t force yourself to stay up late or feel pressured to stay out. A rested body and mind keeps away depression, so make sure to be kind to your body.
This goes with any disorder or problem a person can has. Your own mental health comes first and you deserve to be happy. If you’re feeling particularly miserable and all your coping mechanisms aren’t working, there’s no shame in taking a day for yourself. Buy yourself something nice, like a bucket of froyo with every topping you could ever want on it. Let yourself lay down and watch TV if you’re feeling agitated. Always remember to tell yourself that this feeling doesn’t last forever and that you’ll always get through it.
Seasonal depression may be awful in the summer since it seems like no one else feels the same. Take comfort in knowing that like any challenge, it can be overcome.