The Summertime Blues
Spring and summer are associated with energy, positivity, growth, renewal, hope, picnics, festivals, weddings, and good vibes all round. But what if you just can’t see the sunny side of life? You may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
What is seasonal affective disorder?
SAD is a type of depression triggered by the change in seasons, and usually occurs at the same time every year. Those who experience it tend to otherwise have normal mental health. Most commonly, SAD affects people in winter, which is why it’s also known as ‘winter depression’, due to the lack of natural light, disrupting the body’s internal clock, and a drop in serotonin and melatonin levels. But this mood disorder can, more rarely, grip sufferers in the bright, warm months of spring or summer. Why, though, would anyone feel blue at this time of year?
Pressure to be positive
There are many reasons. Winter can provide coziness, comfort and protection for some, while spring/summer brings added pressure to spend time outdoors, to socialize, and be generally happy and upbeat. These joyous events and moods can be isolating if you’re the only one not sharing the love. Wearing fewer clothes can also trigger body-image issues. Plus, tree and grass pollens can cause unpleasant allergies, such as a runny nose, itchy eyes, and sneezing, which only add to a feeling of dread for the season.
The shocking truth
It may be surprising to learn that the number of suicides increases in the warmer months, according to studies. Humans, like animals, have seasonal cycles that affect our energy levels and the neurotransmitters that activate us, which become slower and may even shut down in winter. Come spring, they are activated again and so may be a contributing factor in why people can only find the strength to end their lives when the seasons change. The true reasons, however, are reportedly difficult to determine.
Common symptoms of summer SAD include:
01 Low mood and persistent feelings of sadness
02 Restlessness, irritability and anxiety
03 Insomnia or oversleeping
04 Sluggishness and difficulty focusing
Seek help and take care
Have you experienced any of the symptoms above? Despite SAD being a temporary condition, it should be taken seriously and needs proper attention and care. Planning ahead can help manage known triggers, so book a holiday well in advance of the season, for example, and block out certain weeks to take time to yourself without any social events. Prioritizing sleep and self-care, as well as staying active, can also ease symptoms. And, crucially, talk to a doctor or therapist. Remember, you are not alone in this – life is cyclical, and just as the seasons shift and change so too do our neurotransmitters and mood cycles. After a low, comes a high.
Set Healthy Boundaries
Don’t want to go to that big family BBQ, or your cousin’s country wedding? Then, politely but firmly, say no. It can be a tough thing to do, but by setting personal boundaries you are prioritizing your own mental and physical health. We teach you how to do this, through various breathing techniques and exercises, in our Set Healthy Boundaries digital course.