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Friday, April 19, 2024

Seasonal depression in summer is real. Here’s how to manage it, according to experts.

You’ve heard of the winter blues, but what about the summer blues?

While the summertime is usually associated with vacations and fun, the warmer season can bring on its own set of stresses, according to experts.

‘When people typically think of seasonal affective disorder, they’re thinking of the winter blues or winter depression. What they don’t realize is that in the summertime, you can have what’s called like this activation or irritability type of syndrome,” Dr. Sue Varma, a psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor of psychologist at NYU, said on “CBS Mornings” Monday. “Instead of sleeping a lot or eating a lot, as people did in the winter blues or winter depression, we find that they’re very activated, agitated — sometimes the mood might be good, sometimes they might be productive, but sometimes not, and it can be very jarring for people.”

What makes people susceptible to stress in the summer? The fear of missing out is part of it.

“Summertime puts a lot of pressure on us to do what other people are doing or feeling like we should have planned something,” Varma says. “And with all the uncertainty (and) economic problems that people are having, they’re not wanting to spend a lot of money on vacations. And yet they’re swiping through their feeds and they’re seeing people traveling all over the place and having a great time.”

In addition to more pressure to do things, you may have also lost your support systems in the summer months.

“If you’re a family of young children,” for example, “you might have had child care during the year; you don’t have that now,” Varma explains.

Seasonal depression symptoms

According to the Cleveland Clinic, summer seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, symptoms can include:

Agitation and restlessnessAnxietyDecreased appetite and weight lossEpisodes of violent behaviorTrouble sleeping

Strategies to address summer stresses

But there are ways to combat summer SAD, Varma says. Here are some of her tips:

Be realistic:“Managing expectations (for yourself or other people) is a big part of it,” she suggests, adding it’s also important to “park your perfectionism” on the side.

Take things step by step: Planning ahead and preparing for summer plans can help reduce stress, Varma says. “I like to keep a little travel bag that has an extra set of toiletries, chargers, things like that,” she says. “Doing a little bit day by day, whether it’s the laundry (or) preparing kids for camp.”

Get help, if needed: “We know that suicide rates go up in the summertime because of the agitation, the irritability, the insomnia,” Varma says. She notes the importance of seeking professional help if you’re struggling with any of these issues or SAD. “A lot of times people with the seasonal affective disorder might have a history of or personal history or family history of bipolar disorder,” she adds.

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