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Summertime Sadness: How to Cope with Summer Seasonal Depression

Do you often feel listless, lethargic, and unmotivated during the summer months? You may be experiencing Summertime Sadness, or Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It’s a condition that affects many people this time of year.

While most people associate SAD with winter, it can also occur during the summer.

Summer SAD goes by many names – Summertime Sadness, Summer Sadness, Summer Depression, Summer Seasonal Depression, and Summer Blues. It can be difficult to diagnose because many of its symptoms are similar to those of other conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

However, if you find that your mood and energy levels are consistently low during the summer months, it may be worth exploring whether summer seasonal depression is the cause.

Turns out, “Summertime Sadness” is more than just a hit song by Lana Del Rey.

sad woman peeking through window blinds at sunny day, feeling summertime sadness

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What Is Summertime Sadness/Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder?

If you depressed during the summer months, you may be experiencing Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SAD is a type of depression that is related to seasonal changes, with symptoms typically occurring during the fall and winter months. However, some people experience SAD during the summer months instead.

Symptoms of Summer SAD can include:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss

It’s important to note that not everyone experiences SAD in the same way, and some people may have symptoms that are not listed here.

The exact cause of SAD is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be related to changes in the amount of sunlight that a person is exposed to. This can affect the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, as well as the production of certain hormones and chemicals in the brain that are associated with mood regulation.

IMPORTANT: If you think you may be experiencing Summer SAD, it’s important to seek help from a healthcare professional. This article is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

What Are the Symptoms of Summer Sadness/SAD?

If you experience symptoms of depression during the summer months, you may have Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Here are some common symptoms of summer depression:

Emotional Changes

  • Feeling irritable, anxious, or hopeless
  • Trouble sleeping or concentrating
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy

Physical Changes

  • Changes in appetite, weight, or sleep patterns
  • Feeling fatigued or having low energy levels

Behavioral Changes

  • Social withdrawal, avoiding friends and family
  • Lack of motivation or productivity at work or in your day-to-day life
woman lying on jetty trailing hand in water, feeling summertime sadness

What Causes Summertime Sadness?

Summer SAD, also known as reverse seasonal affective disorder or summer seasonal depression, is a type of depression that occurs during the summer months.

But what causes this condition?

  • Disrupted Melatonin Production: The hormone melatonin helps regulate sleep and mood. During the summer, longer daylight hours can disrupt the body’s natural production of melatonin, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression.
  • Heat and Humidity: High temperatures and humidity can make it difficult to sleep, eat, and exercise, which can contribute to feelings of fatigue and irritability.
  • Social Isolation: While many people associate summer with fun activities and socializing, some individuals may experience feelings of loneliness or isolation during this time.
  • Body Image Issues: The pressure to have a “beach body” or to participate in outdoor activities can trigger negative body image issues and feelings of inadequacy.

If you think you may be experiencing Summer SAD, it’s important to speak with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment.

How is Summertime Sadness (SAD) diagnosed?

Your doctor or mental health professional can help you determine if you have Summer SAD or another condition that may be causing symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling sad, hopeless, or worthless
  • Increased anxiety or irritability
  • Avoiding social activities

Your doctor may ask you questions about your mood, sleep patterns, and other symptoms to help make a diagnosis. They may also perform a physical exam or order blood tests to rule out other medical conditions that could be causing your symptoms.

How is Summertime Sadness treated?

If you are diagnosed with summer seasonal affective disorder, there are several treatment options available to help alleviate your symptoms.

Therapy

Therapy is a common treatment option for summer SAD.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy that can help you change negative thoughts and behaviors that may be contributing to your symptoms. CBT can also help you develop coping skills to deal with stress and anxiety.

Other types of therapy, such as interpersonal therapy (IPT) and psychodynamic therapy, may also be helpful.

Medication

Antidepressants are often prescribed to treat summer SAD.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are commonly used to treat depression. Discuss the potential risks and benefits of medication with your healthcare provider.

Lifestyle Adjustments

Lifestyle adjustments can also help treat summer SAD.

Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can all help improve your mood.

Spending time outdoors in the morning or evening, when the sun is less intense, can also be helpful.

Additionally, a light therapy box can help regulate your circadian rhythm and improve your mood.

Alternative Remedies

Some people find alternative remedies helpful in treating summer SAD.

These remedies may include herbal supplements, such as St. John’s Wort, or acupuncture. It is important to discuss any alternative remedies with your healthcare provider before trying them.

person sitting on pier staring off at water, feeling summer sadness

Can Self-Care relieve Summertime Sadness?

Try these suggestions for self-care – they are helpful recommendations for everyone, whether you are experiencing SAD or not:

1. Go outside early in the day

Try to get outside as early in the day as possible, as exposure to natural light can help regulate your body’s internal clock and improve your mood.

Even just a few minutes of sunlight in the morning can make a big difference in how you feel.

2. Stay cool

Heat can exacerbate symptoms of summer SAD.

Keep your body temperature in line by wearing lightweight, breathable clothing. Stay in air-conditioned spaces when possible, and avoid being outside during the hottest parts of the day.

3. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can be an effective treatment for depression, so it’s important to make physical activity a part of your self-care routine.

Even just a 20-minute walk each day can help improve your mood.

4. Connect with others

Social support is important for everyone, but it’s especially important for those with summer SAD.

Make an effort to connect with friends and family, and consider joining group activities such as clubs, classes, or social activites.

5. Practice relaxation techniques

Stress can exacerbate symptoms of depression, so it’s important to practice relaxation techniques to help manage your stress levels.

Try deep breathing, meditation, or yoga to help calm your mind and body.

Read More:

Summer Seasonal Depression can impact all aspects of your life.

Seek support and resources to help manage your symptoms, so that you can enjoy the warm weather season once again.

sad woman peeking through window blinds at sunny day, feeling summertime sadness
woman lying on jetty trailing hand in water, feeling summertime sadness
person sitting on pier staring off at water, feeling summer sadness

1 thought on “Summertime Sadness: How to Cope with Summer Seasonal Depression”

  1. Hi Lori, this article was so interesting to me. I’ve never heard of Summertime SAD before, but it makes perfect sense that seasonal changes can impact us any time of year, especially if we live in places where the weather is particularly extreme. Thanks for sharing this information! Joan

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