Understanding Summertime SAD
Have you noticed that certain seasons impact how you feel? You’re not alone.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well-known mental health condition that's commonly linked to the colder, darker months of the year. However, it's less known that SAD can also occur during the summer. This phenomenon, often referred to as "summertime blues" or "summer depression," is a form of SAD that affects a smaller percentage of people but is equally impactful on their lives.
Symptoms and Causes of Summertime Blues
Unlike its winter counterpart, summertime SAD presents with symptoms like insomnia, decreased appetite, weight loss, and heightened feelings of agitation or anxiety.
The exact causes of summer SAD aren't completely understood yet. However, several theories suggest factors such as the heat and humidity, longer daylight hours disrupting sleep cycles, or body image issues exacerbated by summer clothing may contribute to the onset of this condition.
Stress from financial concerns can also be a contributing factor. Many individuals struggle with budgeting for social occasions (like weddings), vacations, summer programs for kids while school is out, and more.
Who's Most at Risk?
While anyone can experience summertime SAD, certain groups are more susceptible. Individuals who have a history of depression or bipolar disorder, those with a family history of these conditions, and people living far from the equator where summer daylight hours are very long are all at an increased risk. It's also worth noting that, like winter SAD, women are diagnosed with summer SAD more often than men.
Overcoming Summertime SAD
Getting an accurate diagnosis for summertime SAD can be challenging due to its relative rarity and lack of public awareness. If you notice a pattern of depressive symptoms that appear in the summer and improve during the winter, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider or your current mental health professional.
Treatment options for summertime SAD typically include psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle modifications, and spending time in cooler, controlled light environments. It's crucial to remember that each individual's experience with SAD is unique, requiring personalized treatment plans.
Tips to Help Combat Summertime SAD at Home
Although therapy is often the most effective way to overcome summertime SAD, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to help manage symptoms. Here are a few helpful tips:
- Make sure to get enough sleep and stick to a consistent bedtime routine. If needed, invest in some room-darkening window treatments so that you can get a full night's rest without sunlight waking you prematurely.
- Engage in some form of daily physical activity, even something as simple as 10 minutes of pedaling on a stationary bike or walking outside. Exercise is a scientifically-proven mood-booster and promotes better sleep. There is no need to overwork yourself or obsess over getting the perfect "summer bod"—remember, you are simply keeping active for your mental well-being.
- Spend some time outdoors. Take a nature walk, go for a bike ride, or just sit and listen to music or meditate. You only need about 8 to 10 minutes of sunlight to absorb Vitamin D, a nutrient that helps keep energy levels up, improves calcium absorption, and supports a healthy immune system, teeth, heart, lungs, and brain.
- Keep your home cool. Use fans, air conditioning, or even take cold showers if needed to stay comfortable and help “keep your cool” during hot days.
- Don't overextend yourself. During summer, there can be pressure to attend numerous social functions. Plan ahead regarding which events you will attend and let the others go. Take some time to relax and prioritize your mental wellness.
- Give yourself some grace. Don't be too hard on yourself if you're having a difficult time this summer. Be compassionate and understanding with yourself as you work through it.
- Reach out for help if needed. Talk to trusted family members, friends, or mental health professionals when things get tough. Don't be afraid to talk to your healthcare provider about adjusting your medication. If you are feeling depressed, it could be time to consult a therapist or join a treatment program.
Residential Mental Health Treatment Program in Georgia
At Red Top Wellness Center, we're committed to providing comprehensive mental health services tailored to your needs. If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of SAD this summer, or if you are struggling with another mental health condition, don't hesitate to reach out to our team of dedicated professionals.
Let's work together to make your summers brighter. Contact us today to get started: (770) 637-7474.