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How Season Affective Disorder Spends Its Summer Vacation

Ashlee Stumpf MA, LPC

I don’t like summer. Nope. Not a fan, probably because I always need a fan and an air conditioner or two on at all times. The days of just leaving my windows open vanish and just like that my once reasonable electric bill becomes one of my biggest expenses of the month. And my critiques go on from there. Bugs come back. Humidity is relentless. Wearing less/shorter clothes makes me feel uncomfortable. My windows need to be covered to keep the heat out which makes my place look like a dungeon. And on top of all that I’m consistently told by the media that summer is fantastic fun and everyone else loves it.

Sun, Sand, & Heat: My Depression Has Increased

So why am I feeling depressed?

The truth is not everyone LOVES summer. Some people struggle during these months like others do in the winter months. You may have heard of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which can cause depressive symptoms as the days get colder and shorter. However, according to, there are some people who experience the reverse. This summer seasonal affective disorder, or summer depression, may be less known in the US, but studies have shown that in countries near the equator it is actually more common that winter SAD.

What Contributes to Summer Depression?

Much of what I spoke of before have actually been noted as possible influences of S-SAD. Besides electric bills, other expenses go up during the summer. Childcare or camps with the kids being out of school. Summer trips and passes to that nearby amusement. More laundry and water use. These financially responsibilities can add strain on your budget.

Body image can be another influence. Choosing between being hot and wearing something you believe is unflattering can be a difficult choice. Those parts we covered up with oversized hoodies and sweatpants on cooler days are now on display with many not feeling “beach body ready,” (whatever that means). And as a result, the pool and beach don’t feel so inviting.

Summer also means a change of schedule. Kids are home from school. Planning for trips and holidays and social engagements (even when they are welcomed) can disrupt the daily structure that many of us created to maintain our mental health. Our sleep schedule. Workout schedule. Cleaning schedule. Diet. Alone time. All are important, but with summer it can be difficult to sustain.

The heat itself can influence people. While some love baking on the beach, there are others who find it crushing. Back-to-back sweltering days can feel unrelenting, add in some humidity in there and tensions run high as moods go low.

How Do I Cope with Summer Depression?

Seek help. If you notice a change in your mood, feeling overwhelmed, fatigued, or trouble sleeping, reach out. Talk to a counselor, doctor, spiritual advisor, or even a friend. It’s important to have support when dealing with a difficult time. It’s possible are these symptoms are temporary. Maybe a simple adjustment of medications or increase in supplements can help. It may only be needed for the summer months, but no matter how little of time don’t let that justify you not talking to someone.

Sleep. With barbeques, vacations, and holidays, our sleep schedules can get pretty out of whack. That’s why it’s important to give your body the respect it deserves. The days are longer and a hot day can take a lot out of a body. Maintain a regular sleep schedule.

Be Cautious with Alcohol. To some summer is associated with a cold drink in their hand. While that is fine for some, please remember alcohol dehydrates the body and during summer you dehydrate even quicker. In addition, alcohol can disrupt sleep patterns, increase anxiety and depressive symptoms with exacerbated use. Make sure you always have water and shade nearby.  

Plan Ahead. If you are like me and know that summer is not your season, be prepared for it. Acknowledge that the next few months will have their difficulties, and, at times, those depressive symptoms will come and THAT’S OKAY. Sometimes accepting the reality of the situation (even if it’s unpleasant) is empowering and allows for more self-compassion. For me, my electric bill is going to go up, and you know what? It’s worth! It’s worth for it for me to feel comfortable. I will rearrange my budget to make it work.

What things will help you avoid summer depression? What help might be there that you haven’t (or choose not to) reached out to yet? Do you need to five ice cube trays so your drinks are always cold? Would a vacation to Wisconsin be better than Florida? Do your outdoor workouts need to move into a nice cool gym? Can you allow yourself a mental health day because you couldn’t get comfortable the night before?  Allow yourself the “luxury” of taking care of yourself. It’s okay to outsource and get help from others. You’re not alone and always remember WINTER IS COMING. If you’re struggling with seasonal depression, reach out for support from a therapist in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling today.

Referenced article:

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