It’s Summer … Why Are You Depressed?

“There ain’t no cure for the summertime blues…”

Rock-and-roller Eddie Cochran famously sang that in his 1958 classic hit. Summer is supposed to be a carefree time of fun and vacations, but like the young man in Cochran’s song, people who miss out on that fun can get severely depressed. There are various reasons that people get the summertime blues, but also many ways to overcome it.

Causes of Summer Depression

Some people experience summertime depression because the hype of summertime travel doesn’t match their reality. They may lack the finances or the time off from their jobs to take a vacation. Making matters worse, they see their coworkers, friends, and family posting photos of their fabulous summer getaways on Facebook or Instagram, leading to a phenomenon known as fear of missing out (FOMO), which has increasingly become a source of stress, anxiety, and depression in today’s social media-obsessed world.

Changes in schedules also can lead to summer depression. School is out, which may cause young people to miss their social connections and the rhythm of a daily routine. Parents may get depressed because they have to deal with added childcare expenses or the stress of having children at home who are bored, whiny, or in constant squabbles with one another.

Summer also is the peak time for body-image concerns, especially among women. They may avoid pool parties or beach outings because being seen in a bathing suit causes anxiety. Instead, they stay home, where they are isolated, lonely, and more susceptible to depression.

There also is a physiological reason for summertime depression, known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is more commonly associated with winter, with the lack of sunlight bringing on a depressive mood. Summertime SAD has an opposite cause, with an increase in daylight hours and no respite from the heat leading to such symptoms as loss of appetite, sleeping difficulties, and lack of interest in daily activities.

Even among those who don’t suffer from SAD, summer’s oppressive heat and humidity can have a negative effect. People may get lethargic, agitated, or testy when out in the heat. They may just decide to stay indoors, where boredom can lead to an even gloomier mood.

Ways to Overcome the Summertime Blues

You can take action to overcome most causes of summertime depression.

1. Schedule a staycation. If your schedule or finances won’t allow you to go on a vacation, set aside time — even just on the weekends — to have fun in your own hometown. Seek out free or low-cost attractions, such as the local zoo or the hiking trails of a nearby state park.

2. Roll out the welcome mat. If you can’t visit family or friends, invite them to visit you. You’ll be less likely to be depressed around the people you love.

3. Start your day with exercise. Whether it’s walking, running, biking, doing yoga, or playing pickleball, outdoor exercise is a great way to boost your mood. Exercise releases endorphins, chemicals in your body associated with feelings of wellbeing. Moreover, you’re less likely to encounter oppressive heat when exercising early in the day.

4. Take up gardening. Gardening is a well-recognized form of therapy for those suffering from stress, anxiety, depression, and for those who are in recovery for substance abuse. Gardening helps provide a sense of purpose to otherwise unstructured summer days. Planting, pruning, weeding, and harvesting can be a satisfying activity, especially when it culminates in putting healthy food on your table.

5. Keep your cool. If the heat and humidity is deflating your mood, stay refreshed by swimming or visiting a waterpark. Stay comfortably cool at air-conditioned venues, such as museums, science centers, and the local cineplex. Drink plenty of water, and when outdoors, use sunscreen to avoid a painful sunburn that would adversely affect anybody’s mood.

6. Learn to feel good about yourself. Don’t let body-image issues ruin your summer. Learn to focus on what’s positive about your body and ignore the unattainable, superficial ideals depicted in movies, on TV, or online.

7. Stay off social media. If seeing others’ vacation photos heightens your depression, do your mental health a favor by minimizing your time online. Make your own fun and memories rather than being envious of others.

When to Seek Help

Those with SAD or other summer-related mood disorders may not be able to overcome their depression without professional help. When depression lasts longer than a few days or weeks and nothing seems to relieve it, reach out to a mental health professional. With their help, you’ll be able to find that elusive “cure for the summertime blues.”

Beachside Rehab offers personalized inpatient treatment for those who suffer from depression. Contact our trained admissions counselors at 866-349-1770 to learn more.