How to Cope With Summertime Sadness and Depression

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Summer is here. Summer means hot weather, pool parties, and time for relaxation. What happens when summer isn’t fun and relaxing, though? Summer depression is real, and you may be struggling with it. This can be especially hard if you feel like you’re supposed to be having a great time. Everyone else seems happy about summertime — but why aren’t you? 

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) often only gets talked about when the winter months approach. SAD affects many people worldwide and typically causes depression as the days get shorter and colder. However, it is also possible to struggle with summer SAD. This means the onset of summer triggers your depression symptoms, with the longer days and increasing heat and humidity possibly playing a role. 

Summer is here, and you feel the creep of depression symptoms. What do you do? Here are tips on how to cope with summertime sadness and depression. 

Find Darkness and Stay Cool

Scientists believe summer SAD may occur because of the high temperatures and other uncomfortable environmental factors, like intense sun or high humidity. If you struggle with depression in the summer, changing your environment could help. Find places where you can get cool and get out of the sun. Staying indoors with air conditioning and blinds down in the hottest parts of the day can be highly beneficial. 

Create a Sleep Schedule

Getting enough sleep is essential for both physical and mental health, whether you have a diagnosis of depression or not. For summer depression, sleep is crucial. While people with winter SAD tend to sleep too much, summer SAD often causes insomnia. Too much sunlight turns off melatonin production. Melatonin is the hormone that drives your sleep-wake cycle. Longer days in summer mean fewer hours for your body to produce melatonin. 

Making sleep a priority can help improve your mood. A few things you can try to improve your sleep in the summer include:

  • Go to bed at night and get up in the morning at the same time every day. A routine will train your brain and body to get sleep at bedtime. 
  • Avoid caffeine and big meals before bed. 
  • Darken your bedroom as much as possible. During the summer, this may mean purchasing blackout curtains. 
  • Avoid screentime at least 30 minutes before bed. 
  • Try stress management techniques, such as meditation to help yourself relax before bed. 

Spend Time With Other People

Isolation is the worst enemy of depression. Of course, when you feel depressed, this may be all you want to do. When struggling with summer SAD, it’s crucial to remain social and connected. Make an effort to spend time with family and friends in whatever situation makes you comfortable and do activities you enjoy.

For example, you may not feel up to attending a large summer event like a pool party. Instead, reach out to a few close friends with whom you feel comfortable. Plan activities you enjoy doing, such as a hike or staying indoors to watch a movie. You can even just reach out for a phone call. 

While you may not have the urge to socialize or do anything fun, social support and taking action are powerful ways to boost your mood. Being around other people, even if it’s just having one friend over, can distract you from the negative thoughts that are so hard to avoid when alone.

Maintain a Set Schedule and Routine

During the summer, your routine can go out the window – and that disruption can be stressful. If you have children in school, summertime means you’re suddenly faced with keeping them occupied all day, every day. Vacations can disrupt your work, sleep, and eating habits, all of which can contribute to summer depression.

Maintaining order and routine even in the summer can be beneficial for fighting off summer SAD. Set specific times even for regular tasks, like getting up, eating, showering, working out, and doing chores.

Of course, kids and vacations can still get chaotic. Sometimes, you have no control over these aspects of summer. However, if you schedule and set routines for what you can control, you may feel better and be more equipped to deal with the disruptions as they occur.

Seek Professional Help

If you think you’re getting depressed, no matter what time of year, get help. Talk to a therapist, a psychiatrist, psychologist, or social worker. You can also see your primary care physician or a psychiatrist who can evaluate whether medication for depression might be appropriate. Never take the signs of depression lightly. Don’t wait them out, assuming they’ll resolve. Sometimes, what started as summer depression can turn into a longer-lasting bout of major depression.

Summer is here, and everyone seems to be having fun — but not you. Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is real and can affect your daily life. The high temperatures and longer days can affect your mood, but luckily, there are ways to cope with summer SAD. If you feel depressed this summer, find darkness and stay cool. You can also ensure you maintain a specific sleep routine, a daily schedule, and spend time with other people. If your depression is overwhelming, seek professional help. At Jaywalker Lodge, we are here to walk alongside men recovering from addiction who may also be struggling with depression. Jaywalker Lodge inspires men in early recovery to engage in an authentic journey of healing and self-discovery built upon personal accountability, deep and lasting friendships, and the belief that absolutely anything is possible in recovery. For more information on how we can help you, call us today at (866) 529-9255.

author avatar
Stefan Bate, MA, LAC, CCTP Chief Clinical Officer
Stefan Bate, BA, MA, LAC holds a Master's Degree in Applied Psychology from Regis University and is a Licensed Addiction Counselor in the state of Colorado. Stefan has wide-ranging experience in the field of addiction recovery including: working as a recovery coach, therapist, and program director.

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