close up of a sundial

Summer depression. Is it real? How to prevent it.

Depressed in summer? Long, sunny days. What’s not to like? Well, summer depression is a very really thing. Many people also experience the guilt from summer depression because, who gets depressed in the summer? And that makes it even worse.

While depression is a complex and multifaceted condition that can be influenced by various factors, some individuals may experience a particular type of depression known as “summer depression” or “reverse seasonal affective disorder (SAD).” It is less common than winter depression but can still affect some individuals during the summer months.

I know a number of people whose depression is worse in the summer. I have a hunch it’s greatly underreported.

So what are the factors that are involved?

Heat and Humidity

High temperatures and excessive humidity can make individuals uncomfortable, leading to fatigue, irritability, and sleep disturbances. These can contribute to feelings of low mood or depression. There is no question that sleep disturbances make a huge difference in how we feel and are a powerful trigger for depression.

Make sure you get enough sleep.

If it’s possible buy some cooling sheets and pillowcases. I found some very reasonably priced ones at Amazon. Sleep in the coolest room in the house. Use a fan. Wear a mask so you don’t wake up too early.

Body Image and depression

monochrome photo of woman with hands over her face/summer depression

Summer often means more exposure to outdoor activities, beaches, and swimsuits. Some people may experience body image concerns or feel self-conscious about their appearance, which can contribute to depressive symptoms. Let’s face it, we’re showing more skin.

Sweaters, jeans and scarves hide a lot. Plus, there’s the fact that in the summer, we reveal more skin and some people feel really exposed and uncomfortable about that. It gets worse the older we get.

The only woman that doesn’t have a concern about how she looks in a bathing suit or a tank top is either delusional, doesn’t look in the mirror, doesn’t care, is under the age of maybe thirty, or has a perfect body. As a rule, men, don’t worry about these things.

Within reason, dress like you want. If sleeveless or short sleeves aren’t the thing for you, that’s OK. I’ve learned over the years that comfort is everything to me. I don’t wear anything I’m not uncomfortable in, and feel good about. My closet is shrinking fast. I have been on this binge for a while now and I’m really happy about it.

Be comfortable in your skin.

Social Pressure

photo of man touching his head upset/summer depression

The summer season is associated with vacations, outdoor events, and social gatherings. For individuals who struggle with social anxiety or have difficulty engaging in social activities, the pressure to participate and maintain an active social life can be overwhelming and lead to feelings of isolation or sadness.

We’re supposed to want to engage in these activities because, well, it’s summer. So we try to make ourselves invisible or come up with all kinds of reasons we can’t participate. And that only makes us feel worse. Here’s the thing. You don’t have to explain yourself to anyone.

However, if social anxiety is really big for you and is disrupting your life, you will probably need some help to overcome it to some degree. We can’t isolate ourselves forever.

No one can live on an island by themselves. We might need to get off now and then. So prepare yourself for those times by learning some coping mechanisms.

The envy factor in depression

People and families get together more in the summers and we see more cars in driveways and people are milling around outside more. It seems like everyone but us is having a wonderful time. We sense we are missing out. Our families aren’t getting together. We’re not seeing our friends. We may just have been with them the week prior but we forget that.

And once again, there’s Facebook. We forget these facebook posts are just a snapshot in time.

Try to find peace within yourself. You aren’t really alone. There are people that care for you. You’ve had your Facebook moments, too.

Changes in Routine

Many people experience a disruption in their regular routines during the summer months. This can include changes in work or school schedules, vacations, or a lack of structure. Such disruptions can sometimes lead to feelings of instability or loss of purpose, triggering depressive symptoms.

Structure is a “blankie” for people who struggle with depression. Summer seems so free-wheeling, it’s hard to maintain structure because our routines are more fluid in the summer. We don’t know what to do when.

Design a summer routine for yourself so you can surround yourself with some structure. Routines don’t mean you don’t ever veer from it. Routines ground us with structure.

Routines are like a base camp we can return to when we feel discombobulated.

Seasonal Allergies and depression

woman lying on bed while using tissue/summer depression

For people who are sensitive to environmental allergens, summer can bring about symptoms like congestion, fatigue, and irritability, which can contribute to feelings of depression or worsen existing depressive symptoms. When you feel like you’ve got a bad cold that never goes away, that can really bring down one’s mood. And it it continues, it might well trigger depression.

Use air filters. Take allergy pills and/or nasal sprays with your doctor’s permission.

Be aware that untreated allergies can make you feel out-of-sorts and keep this in perspective.

Finally, longer days and depression

Longer days can be a really big trigger. My mom struggled greatly with depression on long summer days because sleep was her coping mechanism. In the winter she could sleep 12-16 hours because it made some sort of sense due to the long dark hours. But the summer was different. She kind of faltered in knowing what to do next. Her routine was so much easier to follow in the winter.

close up of a sundial/summer depression
Long summer days can trigger depression for several reasons. One reason is the increased amount of daylight can disrupt our circadian rhythm, or biological clock. When the days are longer, your body may have more difficulty regulating its sleep-wake cycle, which can lead to feelings of fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and low energy.
Additionally, longer days may cause us to feel overwhelmed by the pressure to be productive and engaged in activities during the long summer days, which can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety. Another reason long summer days can trigger depression is because they can lead to an overload of stimulation. During the summer months, our brains are bombarded with sights, sounds, and smells, which can lead to feeling overwhelmed and agitated. This can be especially true if the environment is more stimulating than usual due to increased crowds, music, and other activities.
Finally, longer days may also trigger depression due to the increased social pressure to be happy and cheerful during the summer months. People may feel like they should be having fun and being carefree, however, their emotions may be telling them something else. This discrepancy between expectations and reality can lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, and sadness.

These factors may not apply to everyone, and different individuals may have unique experiences and triggers for their depressive symptoms. If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or any mental health concerns, seek professional help from a mental health provider who can provide a proper diagnosis and appropriate support.

Overall, long summer days can trigger depression due to disruption of our circadian rhythm, an overload of stimulation, and increased social pressure. It is important to recognize these triggers and to practice self-care in order to manage depression during the summer months.

Being aware of these triggers can help you manage your summer depression.

God bless and have a great day.