Eddie Cochran sang “There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues,” but is there really such a malady?
There is a mental health condition that affects a certain percent of the population. We hear a lot about Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter, when people tend to struggle more with depression, but there are some people who have the opposite problem: depression in the summertime.
However, there are noted differences in symptoms between summer SAD and winter SAD.
Winter SAD sufferers tend to oversleep, feel sluggish and gain weight. In contrast, summer SAD sufferers tend to experience insomnia, anxiety and a reduced appetite.
They might feel isolated because they see other people enjoying the summer months, while they have those notorious summer blues.
Ten percent of people who suffer from SAD feel worse in the summer months. Some of the issues that can impact our mood include irregular schedules, financial woes and changes in diet.
People go on vacation, spend money for activities and travel, and eat food outside of their usual diet.
These can be enjoyable but can also add stress, which makes mood management more difficult.
People might not enjoy things the way they thought they would. The vacations we anticipated with such excitement might not live up to expectations, or the symptoms of summer depression might make it difficult to enjoy anything at all.
There might be a frenzy of activity that is overwhelming to some people.
Even though we anticipate feeling good during the summer, it is possible to have SAD during these sunny summer days.
SAD is not the only disorder that can be affected by disruptions in our schedules. If you notice the appearance or worsening of symptoms such as continuous low mood for more than two weeks, significant changes in sleep or appetite, feelings of agitation, or an inability to sleep at all for more than two days it might be time to seek assistance from a professional.
If you are having thoughts of suicide, it is important to seek immediate assistance or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Your family doctor can help you to determine if there are any physical reasons for your symptoms and make recommendations for treatment.
If you are suffering from SAD in the summer (or think you might be), talk therapy with a mental health professional can help.
Antidepressant therapy can be useful, but it is important to bear in mind that many medications make a person more sensitive to heat and sunlight, so extra precautions should be taken for fun in the sun while working to chase away those summertime blues.
Alison Jedrick, MSW, LISW-CP, is an associate with Psychological & Counseling Associates of the Lowcountry, LLC in Bluffton.