Summer is supposed to be a season for fun and relaxation. It’s that time of the year when everybody heads to the beach to get their summer tan or for a refreshing soak in the water. It’s when you sit out on your porch or lawn drinking lemonade or iced tea during the afternoons.
You’re supposed to be relishing the joys of summer like everybody else, but you’re not. You have summer depression. For some, the cause is biological. For others, the stresses of summer pile up and make them miserable.
Reasons for Summer Depression
Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a form of depression which usually affects some people during the fall and winter, but affects others during the onset of summer. Summer SAD is more common in equatorial countries than winter SAD. Longer days and increasing heat and humidity may play a role in causing summer SAD and symptoms include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss, and anxiety.
The heat is not relished by everybody. While some may enjoy baking on a beach under the sun, others find the summer heat nothing but oppressive. These people may resort to spending all their time indoors where they have air conditioning, sitting in front of the TV all day. They may even avoid cooking to avoid the stifling heat in the kitchen and simply order takeout food. Being stuck in the house may eventually cause depression.
Issues with body image arise together with the rise in temperature and as layers of clothing fall away. People who are already self-conscious about their bodies feel more embarrassed especially because summertime gatherings require them to go to the beach wearing shorts or bathing suits. Feelings of embarrassment may eventually lead to depression.
Disruption of routine during summer is common and can cause stress, which then leads to depression. When school lets out for the summer, your kids’ vacation can be disruptive to your work, sleep, and eating habits. Having a reliable routine is important to keep depression at bay, and when your routine is disrupted by having to keep your children occupied all day, everyday during their summer vacation, depression may set in.
Financial worries contribute to summer depression, especially for working parents, when the added expenses for vacations, summer camps, or babysitters start to weigh on your mind. On top of everything else, the financial crisis makes people feel more financially strapped, making them worry about being able to come back to their jobs if they go on vacation.
Tips to help you manage summer depression
Address the problem right away
Whether or not you know that your depression will eventually resolve itself. Even if your bout of depression only occurs three months of the year, every year, it should not be ignored especially if it’s a problem that has a solution. Once you recognize the onset of symptoms, get help immediately; see a doctor or any expert. The symptoms may only last for a few months but your depression has the potential to have longer or permanent effects on your family life and your work, and can even turn into a longer-lasting period if left unchecked.
Figure out the cause
Find the reason why summer triggers sadness. Your summer is probably associated with a difficult time in the past, and you are repeating the cycle year after year. Figure out the underlying cause so you can break the cycle.
Prevention is the key
The one good thing about summer depression is you know when it’s coming. Before spring ends and while you’re still in a lighter mood, you can start planning ahead. Figure out what makes your life difficult during the summer and how best to deal with them. Find ways to relieve the stresses that summer brings before they even happen. Being in control goes a long way in preventing your depression.
Exercise is a great activity to stave off depression. Don’t let the stifling heat also stifle your physical activities. You can avoid the summer heat by exercising earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Your cool basement is a great alternative for your exercises, instead of your usual outdoor routines, if you have the equipment. You can also opt to join a gym only during the summer if you don’t have the equipment at home.
Don’t overwhelm yourself
Don’t overwhelm yourself with your usual summer obligations, like hosting an enormous family gathering during the 4th of July, especially if you don’t think you can handle it. Traditions are important, but don’t risk pushing yourself into a bout of summer depression when you have other relatives who can do the job this year.
Get enough sleep
Even if you’re on vacation and regardless of the shorter nights. Avoid staying up later than usual because insufficient sleep may trigger your depressive moods.
Take it easy on your diet and exercise.
Kicking off your summer with a burst of intense dieting and exercise so you can fit into your old bathing suits will only make you more anxious. Pressuring yourself may only trigger an attack of depression, which may then lead to failure in your anxious efforts. Disappointment with yourself will only worsen your depressive mood.
Carefully plan your summer vacation
Make sure that you are going on a vacation you would enjoy, and not just a vacation that fulfills an obligation. You may only end up worrying about your finances or the responsibilities you left behind at work. If going away will make you unhappy, then it’s not worth the trip. There are other alternatives you can consider, like taking several long weekends off spread out over the summer, instead of going on a trip for a whole month. You can also have a stay-in vacation instead of going away, if it’ll be more relaxing for you. A vacation should make you feel relaxed, not depressed.
Consider adjusting your medication
If you are treating your depression with medicines, but they are not helping to lessen the symptoms of your summer depression, talk to your doctor about making changes. He can make adjustments to your dosage to help keep your summer depression at bay.Better yet, use all natural remedies to beat your depression.
Don’t force yourself to feel something you don’t
Just because summer is supposed to be a fun time for everyone doesn’t mean that you should be having a great time like everyone else. You will only end up making yourself miserable if you keep worrying about how you feel relative to other people. Instead of feeling bad because other people are having fun and you’re not, spend your energies figuring out why you’re depressed in the first place so you can start conquering the problem. Don’t let your depression conquer you.