The Summer Blues can make some “SAD”
Monarch psychiatrist shares way to cope with summer depression
Summer is here – and is a welcomed season for most. The days are longer, the kids are out of school, and opportunities for rest and vacation abound. But for some, summer can trigger an onset of depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), making fun in the sun difficult.
“We’re mammals, we have circadian rhythms, and when they get altered by longer summer days, heat and humidity can make us depressed,” said Monarch psychiatrist Dr. Kumbaiah Murthy.
While most people think SAD occurs only during the winter months, people with summer seasonal depression may be more at risk for suicide than cold-weather SAD, according to Dr. Norman Rosenthal, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School, who helped discover the disorder.
Rosenthal’s research also revealed that between 4 -6 percent of people in the United States suffer from SAD. While summer-onset depression is thought to affect around 1 percent of the population, the change in seasons, longer days, and the heat of summer also adversely affects many people causing anxiety and restlessness.
Typically, those suffering from summer SAD sleep less, eat less, lose weight, and can be extremely irritable and agitated. Often they are anxious and troubled by the change in schedule and season, and feel overwhelmed.
Dr. Murthy said that during summer our routines tend to go out the window which also can trigger feelings of depression or aimlessness.
“Routine is key in combatting a recurrence of depression episodes,” he said.
Murthy added that in order for humans to be healthy, they need to focus on the physical, mental, social and spiritual components of the body- if these four categories are cared for depression and anxiety can be managed.
He mentioned meditation as a way to mentally focus, as well as getting involved in church or community groups for social and spiritual support. One point Dr. Murthy stressed the most was physical health, citing physical fitness as a must in our weekly routines.
Murthy said movement and physical activity can help people move forward in changing habits and routines in other areas of life. If the summer heat is too intense, find different times to exercise. He suggested exercising early in the morning or as the sun is setting in the evening.
Typically summer SAD shows up as agitation, rather than sluggishness found in those suffering from winter SAD. For those who feel too anxious to eat, sleep or follow usual routines, you may want to talk to your doctor about SAD.
Below is a link to a few more tips to combat the summer blues: