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Summertime Sadness

by Kate Naudin- Kehoe, M.A.

Do you ever wonder why you may feel worse in the summer when everyone seems to be getting out of their wintertime blues?


The summertime is often a time of joy, especially after a winter in Chicago, when everyone is out, and the plans become a daily occurrence of happy hours, beach visits, walks, and the list goes on and on, and it can start to feel like too much.


For some, summertime is not all fun in the sun; it is a stressful period that can begin to feel like a pile-up of misery. The summer is tough when you feel like you’re supposed to be having a great time while you see everyone else so happy to have sunshine back in their lives.


So why do some people feel worse in the summer? Summertime SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is the reverse of the typical SAD that is caused by the days getting shorter and colder. Experts aren’t sure as to why some are affected more in the winter or summer with SAD, but summertime SAD could be due to longer days and increasing heat and humidity. Increased temperatures can also cause higher cortisol levels, resulting in palpitations, nausea, and fatigue that can heighten anxieties and depression. Specific symptoms of summertime depression often include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss, and anxiety.


Another possible reason behind summer being a trigger for depression could be the disruption of schedules that summer brings. Those with depression may find it easier to manage when they are on a reliable schedule and routine to minimize their symptoms. However, during the summer, routines often go out the window, and this can cause distress and disruption. School being out and having to return home for a few months, part-time jobs starting back up, work demands decreasing due to scheduled vacations - the routines of summer can be more demanding in socializing, and financial worries can come.


Treatments for summertime depression can include:

●       Staying cool and finding spaces that allow A/C for social activities.

●       Take a quick dip in the lake or a pool.

●       Taking a cold shower to shock the regulatory system for a sense of balance and cohesion within the body’s system.

Beyond manipulating the body’s temperature, simple things like tracking your mood and comfort levels throughout the summertime can help you navigate your options.


Don’t stress out about having to “do it all” before winter rolls around; spend summer doing what best fits you and work towards understanding your symptoms and body’s ability with the heat and stress of summer. If you find that this is more than you can handle, talk with your doctor or therapist to discuss alternative options and coping mechanisms to make it through the summertime season.


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