SAD in the sun: How to fight summer depression


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Beach_HELPEver let the weather get you down? You wake up early in the morning for work only to find rain pounding on your window. Or a huge snowstorm has just terrorized your street and you’re walking in 15 inches of snow on your way to the bus.

So yes, we’ve all experienced those dreary days when we’d rather stay in bed. But there are some of us who experience real depression — called seasonal affective disorder, or SAD — during a specific time of the year. Symptoms — no matter the time of year — include hopelessness, increased appetite with weight gain, increased sleep, less energy, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in work or other activities, sluggish movements, social withdrawal, unhappiness and irritability, according to PubMed Health.

SAD usually afflicts sufferers in the winter. And it’s no wonder. We usually coop ourselves up inside for months, and it starts to get dark much earlier in the day than during the spring and summer.

But here’s something you may not know about SAD: Although less common, it can also hit in the summer. (It only affects about 10% of all SAD sufferers.)

It may seem shocking that there are people who get depressed in the summer sun. But WebMD has identified four possible contributors:


Schedules get disrupted.

People with depression often need to stick to a reliable routine to keep symptoms at bay. But the summer is full of distractions that can mess with your schedule. Got kids? Their summers off can disrupt your day-to-day. Planning a vacation? That will also contribute to symptoms.


Body image issues can flare up.

Hot summers mean skimpy outfits. For people who relish puffy winter clothes, the hot weather brings a renewed bout of self-conscious body issues — think short shorts, bathing suits and tank tops. Thanks to the tiny clothing, some people may avoid social gathering to avoid the embarrassment that goes with it.


Financial worries amplify.

High heat can mean high costs for many. Vacationing (if you tend to do so in the summer) and sending your kids to summer camp can wrack up the bills.


Not everyone loves the heat …

… Like this writer. While many would love nothing more than to bake on a beach for three straight months, the rest of us would rather keep cool in air conditioning. People who simply can’t tolerate the heat and humidity will start hiding out indoors, watching TV for hours on end, skipping outdoor exercise and eating unhealthy takeout, all of which can add to their summer depression.



Fortunately, those who suffer from SAD don’t have to wait for the seasons to change to experience relief. Like other types of depression, people can try talk therapy and antidepressants to combat SAD.

In addition, sufferers should get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise more often, says PubMed Health.

And if you’re specifically suffering from summertime SAD, WebMD suggests any of the following tips:

  • Make sure you plan your summer ahead. When can you take time off from work? Will sending your kids to camp help? Do you really want to take that vacation, or do you simply feel obligated to do so? Try a staycation if possible.
  • If just thinking about exercising in the heat makes you sweat, find other ways to get your workouts in. The earlier or later you exercise, the cooler it will be. Join a gym or invest in some fitness equipment for your home.
  • Don’t jump on the bikini-ready diet bandwagon. It will only make you unhappy and anxious. Skip the restrictive diet and just eat and exercise sensibly.
  • Ask why. Sometimes we get depressed during certain periods of the year for a reason. Maybe you ended a relationship in the summer. Or perhaps a loved one passed away in August. If you find a connection, try sorting it out, which will make summers enjoyable again.
  • Consider adjusting your medication. Consult with your doctor about changing your dosage during the time of year when your depression worsens.