Summer seasonal depression: 7 tips

Summer Seasonal Depression: 7 Tips

Summer seasonal depression is a real thing. It is also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), summer blues, or Reverse SAD. According to Mental Health America, 5% of Americans are diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, most being affected in the winter and summer months. Also, four out of five people with SAD are women.

Many Americans look forward to summer. It’s when they go on vacation, have cookouts, and spend large parts of their day outside in the hot sun. They love it. For other people, holidays and activities in the hot sun are uncomfortable, and the thought of them produces anxiety and dread. To avoid outdoor activities, they stay indoors, isolating themselves from friends and family. It is reactions like this that increase symptoms of depression in the summer.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD is a subtype of depressive disorder in which people show signs of depression at the same time each year. They also show signs of an improved mood around the same time each year. Most people with SAD experience this condition in late Fall and Winter, when the days get shorter, and you are exposed to less sunlight during the day.

Out of people with SAD, about 10% experience depressive symptoms in summer. They are said to have Summer Seasonal Depression (SSD).

What is Summer Seasonal Depression (SSD)?

SSD can be identified by your symptoms that consistently appear and disappear around the same time year after year. Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling sad, without an apparent reason, for most of your days
  • Feeling tired and not having the energy or motivation to get anything done
  • Sleeping too much but not feeling rested
  • Having thoughts of suicide or wishing you weren’t here anymore
  • Overeating due to cravings for unhealthy foods
  • Undereating due to loss of appetite
  • Avoiding activities with friends and family you once enjoyed
  • Sleeping irregularities, such as insomnia
  • Being easily irritated
  • Experiencing an increase in mental health disorder symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, bipolar

What Causes Summer Seasonal Depression?

The cause for each person is based on risk factors that make it more likely you will experience SSD. Risk factors include genetics inherited from family, having an underlying mental health disorder, living far away from the equator, and low levels of vitamin D, serotonin, and melatonin.

Triggers for SSD include disruptions in your daily routines. Your circadian rhythm becomes off-balance, disturbing sleep and other essential mental and physical health functions. Other triggers can make you feel bad physically or mentally and are likely out of your control. Examples include higher pollen counts that lead to allergies, higher heat and humidity, lack of routine, irregular sleep patterns, and negative body image. Professionals claim that when people are unhappy with their body size or how they look, summer clothing, including swimsuits, can trigger feelings of depression.

What is mentioned less often but still exists is seeing friends and family participating in fun activities or going on vacations and not being able to afford to do the same. Whether you call it Facebook envy or just jealousy, it affects everyone from time to time. But the grass is not always greener on the other side and what you see on social media is not always an accurate representation of someone’s life.

7 Tips for Summer Seasonal Depression

Rather than allow the triggers for summer seasonal depression to overcome you, there are things you can do that can prevent some symptoms and treat others. Below are 7 tips to get you started.

1. Get the Answer to “Do I Have SSD?”

Self-diagnosis using Google is not an effective way to figure out why you feel depressive symptoms during the summer season. You can find out for sure by seeking an assessment by a doctor or licensed mental health professional.

Ask your doctor to order tests for vitamin D levels associated with SAD. See if they can measure melatonin and serotonin. Only when you have confirmation of SSD can you know how to treat your symptoms.

2. Join an online SSD support group

There are social media groups filled with people just like you. You are not alone in dealing with SSD. Join the others in supporting and helping each other through the tough days. If you can’t find a support group that’s perfect for you, start one. Or, if you prefer an in-person support group, contact your local treatment center to find out what is available. Peer support plays a significant role in recovery from any condition.

3. Consider Medication

Antidepressants help millions of people every day overcome their blues, feelings of emptiness, and low energy. You don’t even have to take them permanently. Your doctor may be able to create a plan that aligns with the seasons and your symptoms.

4. Prioritize Sleep

During sleep, the brain works to restore the body. Sleep is crucial for healing and coping with depressive symptoms. By creating positive sleep habits, you can see improvements in your physical and mental health this summer.

5. Talk it Out

Sometimes you need someone to listen to you and help you process your feelings. You can meet with a therapist who uses cognitive behavioral therapy, a teacher, friend, pastor, or anyone you trust who can offer supportive advice.

6. Take A Social Media Break

Everyone needs a break from social media. Multiple studies show the more you use social media, the higher your risk for mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. It lowers self-esteem, increases loneliness, and a fear of missing out.

7. Create a Self-Care Plan

Self-care refers to the things you do to improve your mental, spiritual, sexual, and physical health. Small steps like bubble baths, eating healthy, fitness, massage, meditation, listening to music, journaling, or learning a new hobby add up to huge benefits.

Getting Help for Summer Seasonal Depression

The longer you wait to find out if you have SSD, the worse your symptoms may become. You deserve to get back on the road to happiness and good health.

Get the help you need at the Heights Treatment in Houston or Los Angeles. You can start that journey today by reaching out for help.