Seasonal changes are often accompanied by adjustments in daily life. Sun exposure, time spent with friends and outdoors, and sleep patterns can all change significantly with changes in temperature.
With all this variation, it’s no surprise that some people experience seasonal affective disorder, a subtype of depression with similar diagnosis and treatment.
But seasonal depression is not a condition that only occurs in winter. This symptom can also occur during the hottest months of the year.
living with summer depression
During the summer, when the light falls and casts long shadows on the ground, Calgary resident Jeff Sanford can get the sense that something is coming to an end.
“Last week I was on a road trip to British Columbia and I was fine, but I was three or four. [p.m.] We were driving up to the mountains…and I really noticed how long the shadows of the trees along the road were,” he said.
“Literally, I had two days of pretty bad anxiety and I think I almost had a panic attack.”
Sanford says he likes autumn and winter. In addition to having more consistent sunshine, cold weather reduces feelings of guilt and social pressure to be active, he said.
“I don’t feel that at this time of year, because if it’s cold or miserable outside, it’s as if we’re allowed to just stay home and do nothing.”
“It’s kind of mysterious.”
Sanford isn’t alone, but the winter pattern of seasonal depression is more common, said Scott Patten, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Calgary.
This is why people tend to associate seasonal affective disorder only with cold weather.
Other factors may also be associated with depression, such as life events and childhood trauma. According to Patten, depression is always affected by stress.
However, little research has been done on the causes of seasonal patterns that revolve around summer.
However, there are some symptoms to watch out for.
Identifying and treating summertime SAD
Symptoms of summer depression include biological and psychological factors, ranging from disrupted sleep patterns due to heat and long hours of sunshine to body image issues because hot weather exposes more skin for the majority of the population. , Patten explained, could be a combination of social factors.
Like other types of depression, SAD is marked by persistent changes in mood.
Patten said being proactive about dealing with mental health issues leads to better outcomes once you know someone is experiencing seasonal affective disorder.
But for those with experiences similar to Sanford’s, some symptoms can be more difficult to deal with than others.
“The amount of control people have can help empower people because it can change their lifestyle and the way they think about what’s going on in their lives,” he says.
“To the extent that it is caused by things beyond our control, such as the length of the day, people are forced to think about treatments for depression … what individuals can do to reach their full potential.” Mental health, in contrast.”
Patten said treatments like light therapy aren’t typically used for winter depression, but options common to depression in general, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and medications, may help.
Likewise, being aware of the changes that the seasons bring can help prepare for and reduce the symptoms experienced by those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
And while it can feel silly to experience depression when so many others are celebrating the return of high temperatures and cloudless skies, Patten says it’s something to avoid or be ashamed of. Instead, addressing mental health no matter the season stated that reducing the stigma against summer depression could help more people.