Summer seems the perfect time to experience everything warmer weather has to offer. This includes being outside in the sunshine, enjoying walks in the park, and checking out festivals and events that bring joy and excitement. Many people love to spend time with friends and family in warmer weather, also, because it is a nice time to experience the joy of connection with nature and loved ones. Summer can be a difficult time for people who struggle with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), regardless of sunshine. Find out more on why this happens and how to support yourself or a loved one through this challenge.
SAD is a condition where people experience depression because of myriad reasons. Some of them are related to shorter days, longer (darker) nights, and less sunshine. This has been associated with increased sadness, depression, anxiety, and lack of energy. People who struggle typically try different things like supplements and lights that bring natural light into their homes or bedrooms to brighten things up a bit. However, the brain is funny that way in how it can interpret summer as a season for SAD. Decreased sunlight is definitely part of the equation, but summertime also can make people feel agitated, listeless, or anxious.
More Light, Less SAD
It has been typically thought people who struggle with SAD need more access to light. Too much sunlight may turn off production of melatonin, the hormone that drives the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is a difficult hormone because it can change how a person’s brain responds to change in light. Longer days mean more sunshine, which turns off melatonin, thereby causing changes and shifts in mood. Increased heat can be difficult for people who struggle with not being able to sweat or feel uncomfortable when it is too hot. There is no good in-between when it comes to dealing with SAD for those impacted in the summer.
If you or a loved one have summertime blues, don’t feel you have to accept that is all there is to life. There are many things you can try to help boost your mood naturally that will support positive energy:
- Summer SAD’s connection so sunlight helps keep the blues away. Instead of increasing sunlight, it might help to have some darkened curtains in your room to help keep too much sun from messing with melatonin production
- Go to places indoors where you are not out in the sun all the time, all day. If you are someone who struggles with summertime SAD, cultivate time indoors with people who feel the same way and also crave a little time inside, away from the heat
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There are therapists and counselors who work with people experiencing depression, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and summertime blues. Find healthy coping mechanisms to help you manage how you feel
The key is not to suffer in silence. Just because you think people might think you are strange or different for feeling this way when the weather warms does not mean you are not in need of support. Perhaps you need a change of perspective by seeking help from professionals who can tell you it is more common than you think and that you are not alone. The key is to reach out and ask for help so you can get on with living your life the best way possible.
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