Gloomy winter weather is typically the first thing that comes to mind in a conversation about seasonal depression. It’s no secret that many people suffer from seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), in the winter months. A less common type of seasonal depression arrives on beautiful, sunny summer days, and it is just as serious.
How is it possible that warm days and sunshine cause someone to head down a depressive spiral? Before passing judgment, always remember that every person is different. It’s estimated that up to 30% of people with seasonal depression will experience summer depression, according to psychiatrists. People with summer-patter depression, also known as reverse SAD, tend to experience symptoms of depression about four or five months out of the year when the weather is warmer.
As with any form of depression, early treatment is the best approach. The exact timing of treatment will depend on the person’s history with the mental illness. There are no studies of treatments that are specific to summertime depression, but the following strategies may help relieve symptoms and boost mood.
Just as light therapy can benefit those with winter SAD, dark therapy may help those with summer SAD. Some people report that they feel better when wearing dark glasses. Wearing blue-blocking goggles at night may help reduce the stimulating effects of blue light. Additionally, wearing blue-blocking goggles has been able to benefit people with manic or hypomanic symptoms in bipolar people. If you feel irritable or agitated as a result of summertime depression, consider wearing blue-blocking goggles. You can also turn off all screens at night to help limit your blue light exposure.
Create A Routine And Stick To It
Psychiatrists explain that following a consistent routine can help inspire motivation and fulfillment. Start with the basics: wake up on time, brush your teeth, shower, maintain regular mealtimes, and schedule bedtime. If you feel comfortable with all of that, consider adding exercise, self-care practices, and creative outlets to your routine. A great way to stick to a routine is to write your routine down in a planner. You can also use a scheduling or productivity app. You can even go so far as to write memos on sticky notes!
Avoid Depression Traps
What is a depression trap, exactly? The ways in which people cope with depression are not always the most conducive to their mental health. Engaging in these traps will only worsen depression symptoms. Some of these unhealthy behaviors include:
- Blaming yourself constantly
- Watching too much pornography
- Eating when you’re bored, not hungry
- Gambling online, often
- Playing video games for hours and hours
- Spending a lot of time browsing your phone or laptop
- Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
Shift Your Circadian Rhythm
One theory about winter SAD is that circadian rhythms change, go awry even, during the winter. Circadian rhythm is the body’s internal program that regulates the timing of all biological functions. The circadian rhythm is orchestrated by daily cycles of light and dark. Depending on winter or summer SAD, light or dark may help reset the person’s internal clock. Some people with summer SAD feel that their circadian rhythms run late, so they walk outdoors each day during summer at sunrise and look in the direction of the sun for 10 minutes. This is a simple practice that may lift spirits throughout the summer. There are no studies to back this up, so you may have to experiment for yourself to see if it benefits your circadian rhythm.
Cold Temperature Treatment
If you are familiar with the Ice Man, also known as Wim Hof, then you understand the importance of the ice bath. Many people have embraced cold therapy for accelerated recovery, more energy, and reduced inflammation. Plunging into a cold bath shocks the body and has a therapeutic effect. In fact, many cold plunge enthusiasts agree that regular ice baths help to boost mood. Others report that cryotherapy has a similar effect, although that is much colder than an ice bath. Fill a tub with cold water and some ice next time you feel down and take a three minute plunge, taking care to breathe deeply throughout. You may love the results!