What is seasonal affective disorder? You may have heard of the “wintertime blues” where a person’s overall mood lowers right along with the overall temperature. This is an example of seasonal depression. It occurs when seasonal changes cause a person to sink in and out of depression.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Symptoms in the Summer
Typically, this disorder occurs during the autumn and winter seasons. But did you know that it also occurs during the sunshiny months of spring and summer? Unlike the lethargic symptoms of its wintertime sibling, summer depression has a more agitated, jumpy feel. The reasons behind the disorder are not yet as clear as with the wintertime seasonal depression, but the symptoms certainly are and include:
- Poor appetite
- Easily agitated
- Increased tendency towards violent behavior
It is important to be aware of your mind and body and to recognize these symptoms. Summer depression, even if not as well known, is very real. What makes it more challenging is that we typically think of that time of year as relaxing, fun, and happy. Feeling down or anxious can be both frustrating and isolating.
Above that, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be dangerous. It can be a bit of a slippery slope if not addressed, so if you recognize affective disorder symptoms in yourself or in a loved one, then now is the time to look into some solutions.
Causes of Summertime SAD
So what solutions are available? It helps to know some of what causes these affective disorder symptoms to occur in the summer. A big culprit is the disruption to the usual everyday schedule. Kids are out of school, the days are longer, and our time gets filled up with pool parties and vacations. This often results in a lack of sleep, additional financial stress, and a lot noisier excitement. To top it all off, media and other sources send the message that you are supposed to be having fun, which can cause some disappointment.
How to Ease the Effects of SAD
There are several simple practices that can help to ease some of the summer strain:
- Acknowledge the reality of what you are feeling. It can be easy to beat ourselves up when our emotions don’t match our expectations. We may feel like we are overreacting or making things up. One of the first things you can do is learn to recognize that this is a real struggle. This will provide some validation and help ease your mind.
- Let go of what you “should” be feeling. As mentioned before, one of the most challenging things about summer depression is that even the name of the condition seems to contradict itself. But if you can let go of your expectations for what summer is supposed to be like, you will feel less frantic trying to meet those expectations.
- Make fun plans. This doesn’t mean you can’t still gather your friends to hang out or do the fun things you were planning. It can be much more satisfying reaching your own personal expectations of what your summer will be. In fact, the less you isolate yourself the better. It may take some extra effort, but setting realistic goals and being proactive about achieving them is a great cure for any type of depression.
- Limit exposure to light or heat. We usually associate light with healing. It can even be a treatment for many cases of depression. However, for some too much light exposure can have the opposite effect. Staying cool will also help your body maintain its homeostasis, which can give your mind a fighting chance when it comes to dealing with SAD.
Get Help for Seasonal Affective Disorder
If nothing seems to be working, or you find yourself unable to do the things that might normally help, you owe it to yourself to seek out professional resources. This can be a daunting task, but at Vista del Mar, we are here to help answer your questions and to assist you in taking that first step towards healing.