Imagine looking out the window as all the people in your life hang out in the garden or on the balcony, as they look forward to going for ice cream or swimming and all you want to do is close the curtains and block out the light.
Depression during the summer months can be all the things that depression is in other seasons, but somehow it seems particularly unfair to live with a loss of interest in pleasurable things in a season so associated with fun and outdoor activities.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is more commonly associated with the winter months, so much so that it is sometimes called the Winter Blues. We know SAD is much more than blues, and is in fact, considered a subtype of Bipolar Disorder or Major Depressive Disorder. We also now know that SAD is seen in the summer in about 10% of people who live with these disorders.
Depression in the summer can be exacerbated by changes to your normal routine – even pleasurable ones like vacations and travel. Heat and humidity, can also be distressing for some individuals. Sometimes, summer brings on more anxiety and distress over body image, with lighter clothing, swimsuits, and constant media attention on “beach ready bodies”.
A popular meme says “Do you know the best way to get a beach body? Have a body, and take it to the beach.” For some, that kind of confidence can be hard to come by. Finding compassion for ourselves and others who might be really struggling can be a protective factor against SAD.
When SAD is a factor in someone’s life, intervention might be required – encouraging a call to a therapist or doctor might be the answer. Keep that in mind when a loved one struggles to engage in the joys of summer.
Please read our blog post on SAD in the winter months for more information.
Annette Smith has worked in education in diverse contexts for 20 years, and has been surviving depression and bipolar disorder for many more. Baking, sewing, gaming and being a cat person are her favourite coping mechanisms.