I already talked about how to beat winter depression, but I honestly didn’t think I would ever be talking about how to overcome summer depression of all things.
Where’s winter all dark and gloomy, summer is a shiny season that is filled with light, wonder and hope.
Almost as much as spring, really.
Everyone’s chilling at the beach, eating ice cream (even if they shouldn’t), and traveling around.
There’s no way that people actually get depressed in the summer!
Back when I was a kid, summer used to be this incredible thing, so I suppose that I was being biased in that regard to a degree.
But as it turns out, I was wrong.
One thing that came up is that, according to him, he hates the summer.
Normally I wouldn’t have commented about it, to each their own after all, but that particular friend of mine really likes swimming – He was actually somewhat of an athlete when he was younger, gathering medals and trophies around our community.
So, unsurprisingly, it gave me a pause, so I decided to talk to him about it.
“But wait,” I said, “I thought you loved swimming!”
He just shrugged “I know, but I don’t really feel like coming out. It’s so hot outside!”
The conversation continued as-is and after an hour or so we went our separate ways.
I still was wondering about it, even after we were done talking, so I did some research and decided to look into it.
I already knew about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which basically meant psychological changes caused by changes in seasons, but I figured it would be related to winter only.
But then I got to thinking: If this disorder only appeared at winter, why wasn’t it named Winter Affective disorder?
So I did, and I got some pretty unexpected results.
A 1996 study published in the journal of Comprehensive Psychiatry compared the prevalence of summer depression and winter depression in college students in Jining, a southern city in China.
According to data that they have gathered, summer depression among the participants was 1.9 times as common as winter depression, amounting to over 38% of participants experiencing it to some degree.
At that moment I confirmed the direct relation between sunlight and depression, and evidently, it wasn’t always a positive one.
However, this discovery presented a new challenge.
Unlike winter depression, I couldn’t really find anything clear-cut about it.
Nothing seemed to be fully backed up by science, so the causes for it confused me.
Some data attributes SAD to lower levels of melatonin and vitamin D, but both are replenished by exposure to sunlight, something which causes summer SAD in the first place!
The only explanation that may hold merit is that the sudden increase in sunlight messes up your biological clock (otherwise known as the circadian system) through sleeping patterns and sunlight, causing you to experience symptoms like dizziness and irritability, but proof on the matter is rather limited.
Still, I can imagine a few reasons as to why summer might be depressing to some people.
Here are some of my ideas
1) Poor body image
Summer is the season of short pants, naked (or semi-naked) torsos and tanning at the beach.
It’s hot outside, after all, nobody actually likes sweating and stinking, might as well dress properly.
Still, there is a huge problem regarding this summer culture – some people just have a very poor body image, making them grow very uncomfortable, if not flat out jealous.
Poor body image is one one of putting it, this can actually amount to a mental disorder called “Body Dysmorphic Disorder” or BDD for short.
People with this disorder view themselves as disgusting, to the point where they can’t look at their reflection because of that.
So yeah, exposing all of this skin may put a lot of stress on these people.
Even without having a full-blown mental health disorder, up to 91% of women aren’t happy with their figures, and I am sure that most female readers would agree with that data.
It’s not far-fetched that summer culture brings these body image issues to light, making an increase in the statistic of summer SAD
2) Wanting to enjoy yourself but being unable to
If you were to visit any local hangout places you will see them very lively during summer.
The winter is over, no more rain or snow, people can just go out and have a nice picnic outside, or maybe just travel across the country.
Either way, people are having fun, and you aren’t.
Just like the kid that nobody wants to play with, you find yourself looking at others with some envy or maybe even full-blown jealousy.
So you can’t be happy, but why? Why are others so happy but you aren’t?
It can be attributed to multiple reasons actually, the main one is that you simply aren’t a summer person or maybe much prefer staying indoors, but that doesn’t really matter.
You aren’t having fun, and others are, and that’s something that may cause guilt – you might believe that there is something wrong with you, that you are being left out for some reason.
You aren’t, so do yourself a favor and calm down.
3) The summer
This one is a big shocker, I know, but to some of us, summer is a very unpleasant experience.
The heat, the drought, the culture – some people simply hate the summer!
They get lazy, uninterested and overall easily annoyed with the whims of the world.
While some people may find themselves tanning, others might be trying to cool off in an air-conditioned room, maybe even get someone else to make them food since they can’t be bothered to do anything at the moment.
This behavior doesn’t directly contribute to SAD, but it does cause some people to display rather similar symptoms.
For those of us who have struggled with depression for years, a routine is a must when it comes to living with it.
We need a system to follow, a balance to maintain, otherwise we are left with our own thoughts and crumble away in despair.
It’s too bad that summer pretty much destroys this routine instantly.
The kids come back home, you need to keep them occupied, maybe pay for someone to keep an eye for them.
Then there the weekends, with you being forced into different summer activities by friends and family, who suddenly grow much too energetic.
Hell, even taking a vacation (as tempting as it may be) can make you drop some of your daily habits without even noticing.
These sudden changes to your routine can add up to be quite stressful, making you feel as though you lost control over your life.
And sure, it might sound dramatic, but some people can be pretty stressed-out when pulled out of their “zone”
Researchers underestimate the issue
It isn’t about the scientific community underestimating SAD or even depression in general, it’s about the fact that people simply don’t look into summer SAD nearly as much as they should.
Some data shows that up to 10% of all SAD cases are summer-based rather than winter-based.
With that data in mind, it’s also a known fact that up to 5% of all people in the U.S suffer from SAD throughout the year to some extent, with statistics going from 1% to 10% based on region.
That means that about 0.5% of the U.S population suffer from summer SAD.
To put in simply, the scientific community skipped over a problem that about 15,000,000 people in the U.S experience every year.
Brilliant work there, guys!
There is a silver lining here, though: I still got a few tips on how to overcome summer depression up in my sleeve.
- Get ready – you already know that summer depression is coming, so you can get prepared for it by re-building your schedule accordingly. Simply think about what makes summer depression so difficult for you and plan ahead
- Don’t get left out – Sure, you might not be a summer person, but that doesn’t mean that you should let yourself be left out of any social activities. Spend some time with other people, do things even if they aren’t all that enjoyable: It’s better than the alternative
- Don’t worry too much about diet and exercise – a lot of people seem to take exercising seriously during the summer, but getting all worried about it won’t do you any good. It’s a much better idea to just stay relatively fit the whole year instead of just cramming
- Get an indoors hobby – if you really dislike the heat that much, just get a new hobby for yourself indoors, something that you will find enjoyable and distracting (in my case, I picked up puzzle-solving) all the while avoiding the burning sun. Hell, you might as well call a few friends over.
Don’t worry, it’s will be over before you know it
Sure, not the most revolutionary of tips, but you need to remember that summer SAD is a temporary setback, only in oddly rare cases does it last past summer.
Your best hope is to simply adjust to it.
So here’s a question for you while you’re still here – Do you love the summer?
Make sure to write your answers in the comment section below – I read every single one of them!
If you got any question then feel free to send me an email and I’ll get back to you as quickly as possible.