We often experience bouts of sadness during the winter months when the sky is gray and we just want to see a glimpse of sunshine. Although the winter blues are much more common, Summer Depression is a significant problem that is rarely identified. Additionally, the change in seasons can bring extra stress, as it is a transitional time for many.
Formerly referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” the new diagnosis is “Recurrent Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern.” This depressive pattern occurs at a particular time of year corresponding to certain seasons, not necessarily Winter. Dr. Rian Rowles, a psychiatrist in Oak Lawn, Illinois, shares some signs that you may be experiencing Recurrent Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern during the summer months and how to combat these feelings:
- You feel like the sun is draining your energy and you are exhausted.
While the sun may not literally be draining your energy, it can decrease melatonin production in your body. Melatonin is a hormone that plays a vital role in mood regulation and sleep, so any increase or decrease can be a direct result of why you might be depressed. To help keep your melatonin production from decreasing, try to reduce sun exposure: Wear sunglasses, carry an umbrella, keep the shades drawn and spend your time outside when it’s overcast.
- You’re having trouble sleeping
While those who experience Recurrent Depressive Disorder with a Seasonal Pattern may have less energy during the day, at night, they’ll experience a surge of melatonin due to the sluggishness of their morning and afternoon. The best thing to do in this situation is to give yourself time to wind down. Turn the lights off and establish a routine, such as reading or meditating, which will signal to your brain that it’s time for bed and only use your bed for sleeping or other relaxing activities.
- You’re constantly cranky or upset about something
The cause of your crankiness can be in part a result of the summer atmosphere. One of the most noticeable changes in summer is the heat and increased humidity. Do your best to stay cool as often as possible. Keep to air-conditioned places, carry a portable fan, have a cold drink in your hand or take cold showers often.
- You’re anxious
There are many factors that could be contributing to your anxiety. Lack of routine and increased unstructured time in addition to crowds of sweaty bodies, kids everywhere, endless summer parties can all be triggers for increased anxiety. In order to limit your anxiety, plan around the things you know will make you anxious. Choose social events that will have smaller crowds or that will take place at night. Get to the party later rather than earlier. You can’t eliminate everything in your summer, but plan accordingly to reduce the time you may have to spend in agitating situations and try to create a summer routine.
- Loss of appetite
Constantly feeling stressed or anxious about summer can cause an imbalance in your hormones and may decrease your sense of hunger. Nevertheless, just because you’re not hungry doesn’t mean your body doesn’t need nutrients. You may not feel hungry because you are busy feeling stress and the adrenaline rush of running around! Schedule time to eat during the day and try to stick to them. It may help to add reminders to your phone calendar or to setup a routine where you’ll plan to eat meals at a certain time each day.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and you would like to discuss this further to see if a therapist could be helpful, contact us at Gaithersburg Counseling Center, at (240) 274-5680 or Admin@HealingLLC.com. You can also visit our website at www.GaithersburgCounseling.com.