Sunshine, beach, parties, social events… summer… well, not for everyone.
We don’t talk enough about summer depression.
Some people feel depressed as summer hits us.
What is summer depression?
Summer depression or summer-onset seasonal depressive disorder (SAD) affects people during the warmer months.
It can be caused by factors like excessive heat, social stress or enhanced feelings of isolation whilst others seem to have fun.
It might feel like a pressure to stay active and happy. This can lead to feeling out of sync with surroundings (Magnusson & Partonen, 2005; Rohan, 2015).
Relationships and social expectations
Increased social expectations can promote feelings of loneliness and isolation and heighten feelings of inadequacy.
If others are on holiday, but you cannot go, it can also make you feel low and lonely.
Seeking support from good friends, family members or therapists and engaging in meaningful conversations about your needs can reduce feelings of loneliness and help create a sense of acceptance.
Body image issues
Fewer clothes can mean more consciousness about our bodies. Media pushes you to get that summer body. Our inner voice can be the most cruel and critical one.
Therapy can help you question your narrative and work on self-acceptance rather than spoiling your mood and summer with unrealistic body ideals. It is summer; you have a body… put on something comfortable.
Appreciate your body for what it is, and create an environment of support and empowerment that will allow you to enjoy the warmth and beauty the season offers without unnecessarily worrying about your body image.
Environmental factors play a significant role in summer depression. The longer daylight hours, heat, disruptions in routine, and social expectations associated with the summer season can contribute to increased stress and emotional distress. High temperatures and humidity can directly impact mood and energy levels, making it more challenging to cope with depressive symptoms.
Seeking cooler environments and staying hydrated can help alleviate some physical discomfort and fatigue. Establishing a consistent daily routine, even amidst changes in vacation schedules, can provide more of a sense of structure and stability.
Relaxing activities such as practising mindfulness can also help counterbalance the negative impact of environmental factors and promote a sense of emotional well-being.
How can therapy help with summer depression?
We can focus on self-awareness. Introspection and mindfulness can help you better understand your needs, emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. Furthermore, we can challenge your thinking patterns and promote personal growth and healing.
We can talk about purpose and meaning in life. Self-reflection exercises help you to connect with your values and goals.
It’s okay not to feel happy just because it’s summer.
Magnusson, A., & Partonen, T. (2005). The diagnosis, symptomatology, and epidemiology of seasonal affective disorder. CNS Spectrums, 10(8), 625-634.