Summer Blues

Last week I posted about how to enjoy summer to the fullest.  But this week I have been reminded that summer doesn’t mean happiness and long, carefree days for everyone.  For some, summertime is no picnic at all.  We are all familiar with the “winter blues,” or more seriously, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  SAD is a disorder that affects people’s mood in the fall or wintertime as the number of hours of daylight decreases.  Folks who suffer from SAD report feelings of depression, lack of motivation, and changed sleeping patterns – among other things.  They also report that their symptoms go away in the spring and summer months as the sunshine returns.

But is there such a thing as summertime SAD?  Perhaps not for the same reason (lack of sunshine), but folks can become depressed summer after summer just the same.  Why might someone get depressed in the season we know we are “supposed to be happy”?

  • Health problems. For some people, summertime brings a host of unwelcome health problems.  Think seasonal allergies and aggravated asthma.  Those with fair skin and/or a history of skin cancer might find themselves hiding from the sun – and thus much of the fun – of summer.
  • Change in routine. For seasonal workers or parents with school age children, summertime can bring a change in schedule that is not always welcomed or easy.  While we see families in movies having memorable summer vacations and trips to the local pool, for those who are unemployed, working extra-long hours, or are at home with challenging children, these images can be hard to take.
  • Painful memories. Not everyone has wonderful summer memories in which to indulge while sipping ice tea on the front porch.  For some, summer may bring up memories of a death of a loved one, a painful divorce, or an unexpected layoff.

These are just a few of the many possible reasons summertime might not be all fun and games.  Whatever the reason, it is important to recognize that assistance is available for those who suffer from depression, low mood, or “just not feeling right” during this time of year.  Don’t know where to start?  Try the American Psychological Association’s Psychologist Locator, contact your primary care physician for a referral to a mental health professional, or call your insurance company for a list of psychologists in your area.

Photo by: Swissrolli