Understanding Summer Depression
Apparently, Summertime Sadness is a real thing. You might have heard about the Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This condition typically causes depression as the days get shorter and colder but about 10% of people with SAD get it in the reverse — the onset of summer triggers their depression symptoms. Some studies have shown that in countries near the equator – such as Pakistan – summer SAD is more common than winter SAD. Why do seasonal changes cause depression? Experts are not very sure, but the longer days and increasing heat and humidity may play a role. Specific symptoms of summer depression often include trouble sleeping, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anxiety.
If you’ve had depression before, you probably know that having a reliable routine is often the answer to keep the symptoms at bay. During the summer, routine usually goes out the window and that disruption can be stressful. As the temperature climbs and the layers of clothing fall away, a lot of people feel a bit self-conscious about their bodies. Additionally, financial worries could also contribute to this summer depression.
The heat, however, is the biggest contributing factor to this SAD condition. Summer heat can become truly oppressive. Especially, in countries like Pakistan. You may start spending every weekend hiding out in your air-conditioned bedroom, watching TV-shows and escaping the heat. You may begin to skip your usual before-dinner walks because of the humidity. You may rely on unhealthy takeout because it’s just too hard to cook in the heat.
Any of these things can contribute to summer depression but the good news is that there are multiple, natural remedies to cure Seasonal Affective Disorder:
Regular exercise has been proven to help with traditional types of depression, and SAD is no different.
Staying active increases the production of feel-good chemicals that can help ease depressive feelings and even brain fog. In one study, just 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill for 10 consecutive days was enough to produce a significant reduction in depression.
Plan Something Fun:
Something as simple as taking a day off of work to have lunch with a friend or nestling in with a novel at home can be good enough. Plan something enjoyable every few weeks to keep yourself motivated to move forward.
It is important to maintain good sleep hygiene in the summer. Even though the day’s events are changing from week to week, make sure to keep your sleep schedule the same: go to bed at the same time every night, wake up at the same time every morning, and don’t sleep much less than 7 hours and no more than 9 hours a night. When depressed, it’s common to want to sleep as much as you can, to kill the hours. However, extra sleep does increase depression.
Talk it out:
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of psychotherapy that helps people change unhelpful or unhealthy habits of thinking, feeling and behaving, can help alter your way of thinking and focusing on positive solutions. While CBT is useful for many types of depression and mental health disorders, there’s renewed interest in using it as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder.
Eat a Healthy Diet:
While people with SAD crave comfort foods — starchy carbs, sweet treats and more — eating that way ensure you’ll look and feel worse. Instead, focus on a SAD-busting, healing diet. Lots of lean protein, leafy greens and fish will keep hormones in check and boost serotonin levels.
Reach out for Help:
Depression, no matter the type, can feel extremely isolating. Reaching out to friends and family and establishing a support network can help ease the burden. If you suspect you’re at risk for seasonal affective disorder, be sure to reach out to your health professional for better attention.