Summer depression is also known as Summer-onset Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or reverse SAD. Summer SAD affects individuals and creates depressive feelings and depression symptoms, specifically during the late spring and summertime.
Summer depression has been noted to be more common than winter SAD in locations near the equator due to the weather. Areas with recurring seasons are likely to experience summer SAD because of the change in weather, schedules, and lifestyle during the summer season.
SAD can occur during any season. Characteristics that may describe spring SAD as opposed to summer SAD often include but are not limited to environmental factors causing allergies, longer days, and warmer weather.
Some main signs and symptoms of summer depression include irritability, anxiety, disrupted sleep, and body image issues. These symptoms usually pop up during the late spring or early summer and fade as summer comes to an end. However, seasonal depression is year-round, and although summer may end, fall SAD may have an effect on individuals.
One potential cause of summer depression includes exposure to too much sunlight, which causes changes in one’s body’s circadian rhythm. When our circadian rhythms become dysregulated, our sleep is thrown off, and it can play an integral role in aspects of our physical and mental health. Another possibility is the disrupted schedules of summer that change up our routine. This can cause anxiety and stress due to the lack of structure and unplanned schedule for each day. A final cause of summer depression is the lesser amount of clothing worn, which could lead to body image issues and a decrease in self-esteem in social situations.
The diagnosis of summer depression requires present symptoms for a two-year period and full criteria for depression during the summer season. Summer depression can be diagnosed by medical professionals, including a healthcare provider, a psychologist, and a psychiatrist.
Recurring symptoms must be experienced for at least two years to get a formal diagnosis.
Treatments for summer depression include:
Seeking professional help such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in treating SAD. Having a therapy session with a Mental Health Professional can provide individuals with a place to talk openly and help encourage positive emotions. Additionally, meeting with a Psychiatrist or Medication Management Specialist can allow individuals to evaluate the medications available to reduce or mitigate symptoms of SAD.
Plan ahead: When spring rolls around, think about what is difficult for you during the summer and have plans in place to challenge these forces. Make time to have self-care days, plan fun events and activities that are worth your money, and create a new summertime routine.
Sleep: Try your best to keep up with your regular sleep schedule during the summer.
Keep up with exercise: Find ways to exercise that benefit you, even if that means working out inside or early in the morning. Try whatever it takes to remain motivated during the summer months.
Take a vacation: Vacations can be far away or at home. Plan a time and place that will feel relaxing, not like you took the day off to take on more responsibilities.