Summertime incites feelings of trips to the shore, sunny days spent lounging around the pool, family cookouts and cool days when the sun never seems to set. But for a small percentage of Americans, the sunshine can bring a sense of fatigue, depression, and hopelessness.
While you’ve probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that affects more than 3 million Americans each year, not all cases occur during the winter. In fact, 10 percent of SAD sufferers actually suffer from Reverse SAD, a condition in which they get depressed in the warmer months.
While winter SAD sufferers will often feel despondent and will tend to oversleep, people with summer sad will feel the opposite. Patients with summertime SAD often report bouts of insomnia and anxiety.
Most SAD cases can be traced back to the winter when the sunlight is scarce and the nights are longer. Evidence shows that less sunlight can mess with our circadian rhythm, our 24-hour sleep/wake cycle. This causes our brain to lose levels of serotonin, the brain chemical that affects mood.
This can be especially hard for sufferers because it seems as if everyone around them is soaking up the sun. When people don’t experience this, they feel even more isolated.
Understanding The Symptoms
If summer’s heat and sun bums you out, you’re not alone. Here’s how to tell if it is a case of the summertime blues — or something more serious.
Why Is It So Hot?
Winter SAD can leave people feeling sluggish. But for summer seasonal depression, the heat can leave sufferers feeling restless and uneasy.
Too much sunlight turns off production of melatonin, the hormone that drives the sleep-wake cycle. The long days of summer may affect how you sleep and insomnia is a very common symptom.
Summer can be expensive. Between vacations and all the available activies, the warm weather can drain your bank account. The added expenses can lead to a feeling of depression.
Loss of Appetite
If you experience a lack of appetite and subsequent loss of weight during the summer, you may be showing symptoms of SAD.
Why So SAD?
People with summer seasonal depression need to understand that they are not alone. More research on this topic is being done each day. While there may be no cure, there are methods to help you get through this season without listening to Lana Del Rey’s “Summertime Sadness” on a loop.
Talk To Someone
It is always important to get help. No matter what time of year, if you believe that you are depressed, you should seek out help immediately. Talk to a therapist or medical professional that can evaluate your symptoms.
Find Dark Rooms
Summer SAD is the opposite of Winter SAD when it comes to sunlight. If you are suffering from summertime seasonal depression, it is advised to spend time in darkened rooms. Blackout shades to hide the sunlight will help.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
Don’t be afraid to turn down that invitation to that 4th of July barbecue. If you aren’t feeling the best, don’t make it harder on yourself. Pull down those shades and try to relax.
Practice Yoga and Meditation
Yoga and meditation are great ways to relax and destress. Grab a friend and go find a local studio or gym that offers classes.