Most of us have heard of winter depression – SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder. But as the word ‘seasonal’ suggests, it isn’t just in winter that our mood can be affected to the point where we feel down or depressed.
Summer time depression is a recognised thing. In fact, the nearer the equator you go, the more common is summertime depression.
There are various culprits: light and temperature being the two obvious ones which affect our sleep and physiology and thus our mental wellbeing. While many people think that light is an agent of happiness and energy, for some, light has the opposite effect, causing feelings of overstimulation, agitation and anxiety. And oppressive heat can also result in feelings of agitation.
In addition we must also deal with media generally, and particularly social media, putting us under immense pressure to enjoy good weather while it lasts and shoving onto our feeds the amazing times everybody else is having in exotic places, at summer festivals, fun friend and family barbecues etc etc. And so our Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) can sky-rocket, giving rise to feelings of inadequacy, failure and shame if we are actually not enjoying a packed social schedule or don’t have a fabulous holiday imminent – or actually don’t even want these things.
We can also add to this dangerous mix the disrupted schedules that summer inevitably brings: covering for colleagues who are away / juggling work and childcare during the impractically long school holidays / trying to keep said kids entertained at considerable financial cost etc etc. Vacations can disrupt our work, sleep, and eating habits — all of which can all contribute to summer depression.
Another important consideration is how summer may trigger body issues. As the temperatures rise and the layers of clothing fall away, many of us naturally feel more self-conscious of our bodies and berate ourselves for letting that New Year diet resolution slip. We may even start avoiding social situations out of embarrassment and our self-esteem may drop a few notches.
So what can be done if you feel dragged down to the point of depression during the summer months?
To start, I hope that even the knowledge that not everybody loves summer may be helpful for you. Lots of people are simply relieved to find out that they are not alone in feeling down in the summer, or in preferring winter weather.
This self-knowledge can make you feel freer to think about what you do want out of your summer (even if it’s staying inside with the blinds closed and the fan on high) – and perhaps less bothered by what other people are doing with theirs. Self-kindness in the form of reduced toxic comparisons to others is a good start to feeling better.
My 5 tips for managing depression are equally applicable to summer depression – read them here.
Of course, sometimes our depression simply feels too overwhelming and draining to manage it on our own – and many of us may not have an adequate support network to help us through periods of prolonged depression. This is where the support of a professional may be helpful. If you would like a free 30 minute telephone consultation to explore your current situation and see how I may be able to help, then I would welcome your call or e-mail on 07957 234 950 / firstname.lastname@example.org