Contrary to what most people believe, the highest suicide rates registered globally are actually during the spring and summer months. People tend to associate good weather with a good mood when in reality there are many circumstances in which this is not the case. Summer depression is a form of depression that occurs specifically during the summer months. It is known as reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD) because it contrasts the more common SAD, where symptoms occur in winter as the days get shorter and temperatures drop, summer depression occurs as temperature rises and vacation mode kicks in. It is more common in women and young adults.
For individuals struggling with depression during summer, it can be quite difficult since the summer months are associated with freedom, vacations, happiness and increased activity, such that it can become hard to keep up. Symptoms of summer depression include difficulty sleeping, weight loss, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, loss of interest in activities and thoughts of death or suicide.
It’s also possible for a pre-existing depressive disorder to become worse during summer. This can be due to the disrupted schedule (no school, different working hours, kids at home), body image issues, financial stresses with all the outings and vacations, heat intolerance or summer not meeting one’s expectations. There is a social expectation to enjoy summer and when someone can’t do that because they’re struggling with their mental health, they may feel different or broken. This can make it more difficult to open up and seek help but in reality, many people are going through this and it is absolutely possible to find people who understand.
How to manage summer depression:
Plan ahead – prepare support systems and coping mechanisms to use for when the summer months arrive in advance, so that you’re not overwhelmed when it happens.
Get enough sleep – going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday in summer and maintaining good sleep hygiene is important both to help keep a routine and because our mood is very much affected by the quality and quantity of sleep we get.
Exercise – a lot of people abandon their exercise routine in summer. Try to fit in exercise in the morning or at night when the heat is bearable. Exercises releases the body’s natural happy hormones leading to an improved mood.
Set up a summer schedule – a schedule, when not too tight, can help you feel in control and on top of things.
Be around others – staying connected to others in summer is important as it improves mood and provides opportunities to get out of the house. It doesn’t have to be a party or big event, calling and catching up with one friend is enough.
Seek professional support – if it ever gets too much, remember you are not alone and that a professional can help you develop ways to cope with what you’re going through.
Fader, S. How To Recognize Summer Depression And What You Can Do To Manage It. Retrieved on 15th May from: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/depression/how-to-recognize-summer-depression-and-what-you-can-do-to-manage-it/
Borchard, T. 6 Tips to Help Summer Depression. Retrieved on 15th May from:
Nicole Borg is a medical student at the University of Malta and a childminder with Willingness. She has experience working with children with neurodevelopmental disorders and a great interest in psychiatry and development.