Seasonal Affective Disorder

How to Lighten Up the Summer Blues

June 26, 2019

For most individuals suffering from SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, winter is the obvious culprit. More specifically, the short days and  inevitable grayness play a big role in decreased serotonin levels. As a result, our moods dwindle, leaving some of us spending the winter months feeling sluggish and dull.

Other individuals, on the other hand, experience SAD quite differently. In their case, summer-- with its long sunny hours, is the cause for their disorder. Summertime Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as reverse SAD, is experienced by 10% of SAD sufferers. Sometimes confused with major depressive disorder, it is a very real and valid condition in and of itself. In this article, we’ll cover exactly

  • Why summertime SAD occurs
  • Things that might help you cope with it


woman with outstretched hands watching sunrise
Recognizing that your summer SAD is real and valid is a first step in seeking support.

Why does  Summertime SAD occur in the first place?

There are several theories about why summertime SAD occurs. In an ironic twist, reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder might be caused by too much sunlight and higher temperatures, according to Psychology Today. Your internal clock--the part of your brain that drives your sleep-wake cycle-- and genes--might also have an effect, states TIME Magazine.

What is clear is that the heightened levels of sunlight mess with our internal clocks. The decrease in neurotransmitter melatonin is directly linked to a number of mood disorders, including depression. The decrease in melatonin also means that we’re less likely to get as much sleep, or quality of sleep, in the summer as we do in the winter. This, coupled with summer FOMO--the gutting feeling that all your friends and neighbors are off doing amazing fun things, and that you’re missing out-- can make us feel isolated and restless.


What Can We Do to Cope with it?

Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder can be tricky. While the weather is the main concern, it’s not really something you can change. However, you can control how you respond. The most important step is reaching out to a licensed mental health professional.

In addition to getting a professional’s opinion, trying out the following workarounds can be a great start:

  • Set a schedule. Having a daily routine can help you gain a sense of purpose and control, and keep restlessness at bay. Keeping a bullet journal or any kind of planner might also help you feel organized.
  • Regulate your sleep. Poor sleep and SAD are correlated. Establish a sleep schedule and try your best to stick to it.
  • Exercise. Cliche, but true-- exercise releases endorphins and helps you sleep better.
  • Don’t isolate. Easier said than done, but nonetheless important to remember. Keeping in touch with close friends, planning a couple activities you love, and having a support network will help you feel more involved, hopeful, and diminish FOMO.


happy friends celebrating mental health, watching sunrise
Staying connected to friends is important to lessen feelings of isolation.


Above all, remember that summertime Seasonal Affective Disorder is not only temporary, but manageable. In the words of Rainer Maria Rilke, “No feeling is final.”



DISCLAIMER: Please note that if you or someone you know is experiencing any number of these symptoms, you should talk to a mental healthcare provider right away. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger or experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 for immediate assistance.

 


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