Summer Depression and how to spot the effects of (SAD)
Most people are familiar with the phenomenon of depression in the winter time. It’s logical; the short days, the lack of light, the cold weather and the pressure to celebrate the festive season. Just reading that last sentence a couple of times is enough to make you feel low! But have you ever heard of summer depression? How is that even possible?
In the UK, approximately 600,000 people are affected by summer depression or reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The numbers are relatively small, but it should be viewed as an equally serious problem as winter depression. People tend not to take it as seriously because summer is seen as a time of fun – who doesn’t like picnics in the park, going out without a coat and long days lazing in the garden?
There are several things you can do to help prevent summer depression so you can sit and enjoy the summer read here for more information.
What is summer depression?
Summer depression is a seasonal disorder. People with this form of depression only experience symptoms during the summer season. These symptoms are the same as those of people who suffer from winter seasonal depression.
If you suffer from summer depression, you may experience the following symptoms:
Feelings of lethargy, hopelessness and loneliness
Disturbed sleep patterns
Feelings of stress, panic and anxiety
Causes of summer depression
Too high expectations
Much research is yet to be done on the cause of depression specifically related to the summer. However, there are a number of causes that are linked to this form of depression. First of all, the sense of pressure that many feel to have a good time. The image of summer as a period of holiday, sun, sea, beach, ice creams and being outdoors can lead to unrealistically high expectations about the holiday season and a sense of failure and disappointment. There is also the feeling of having to make the most of the fine weather; you should not be indoors but outside because of the nice weather and the warm temperatures.
Out of balance
Furthermore, the summer can cause additional stress, precisely because it is so different from the rest of the year. You might find it hard to easily adapt, especially if you usually like the rhythms of work or school. A more relaxed period can make you feel out of sync and stressed. Additionally, feeling unsettled in your environment can make you feel unsupported and consequently depressed.
Too much light and too little sleep
In winter, depression can occur due to insufficient light in the dark long days. Light therapy can help you feel better. In the summer, you can suffer from too much light through the long days. The body absorbs too little melatonin, which compromises your sleep – wake cycle sometimes resulting in a lack of sleep and no one is happy is they haven’t had enough sleep! You can feel sluggish, exhausted and tired. In addition, you often go to bed later because it is still light, even though you still have to wake up early the next day.
A lack of body confidence
People who are insecure about their bodies often find the summer is very uncomfortable. They often prefer to hide their bodies in long clothes instead of wearing revealing shorts or swimming costumes. They are keen to avoid the beach at all costs with all those beautiful bodies. The result is staying indoors with nowhere to go, which only intensifies feelings of loneliness and sadness.
Tips for coping with summer depression
There are several things you can do to help prevent summer depression so you can sit and enjoy the summer:
Recognise the symptoms. It is important to learn that your symptoms are related to the summer in order to understand what is happening to you.
Talk about your emotions and take your feelings of sadness seriously.Keep fit by having enough exercise, drinking enough and finding cool places.
Do you suffer from too much light in the bedroom? Hang blackout curtains to improve your chances of sleep.
Think positive thoughts and be realistic about your schedule. Spread your to-do list over a week instead of a day if that helps you to have more rest.
Be kind to yourself, do what you feel comfortable with and then you can go back to the summer weather.
Sources: Fund of Psychic Health, Nrc.nl, Human and Health, NHS
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