Summertime SADness

By Sarah Harper on Aug 3, 2016

For many people, summer and its longer days and milder weather are a welcome relief after enduring the winter elements. However, if you're part of the 4-6 percent of the U.S. population dealing with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, changing seasons can be anything but welcomed.

While it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason for summer SAD, experts believe an increase in anxiety levels, an increase in temperature, and the disruption of natural circadian rhythms may be partly to blame. Anxiety can be associated with multiple changes that come with summer. Established routines often keep depression at bay, so it's no wonder that summer's boisterous call for spontaneity and flexibility can pull some individuals through the wringer. With additional activities and vacation, summer can also bring financial worries not seen in other seasons.

Rising temperatures mean shorts, tank tops, and more exposed skin, which can negatively affect self-confidence and usher in body image issues  previously unseen. If severe enough, individuals may find themselves overheating under unseasonable layers, or worse, avoiding social situations altogether. Some feel energized by longer days and quickly move to pack more activities into their daily routine. Others find it hard to sleep through the perpetually increasing twilight, and often awake groggy from an incomplete sleep cycle. The added stress from sleep deprivation can lead to an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, and negative thoughts.

What do you do if you start feeling a little blue? Talk to someone. There is no shame in admitting you need professional help. Tell your Primary Care Provider how you're feeling and they may refer you to a therapist or psychiatrist for more specialized care. They may also help you devise a plan to keep the blues at bay, whether it’s finding a new routine,regularly exercising, or planning healthy meals. Whatever your plan, work with someone so you can let the sunshine chase the blues away.