Seasonal affective depression, also known as SAD is a mood disorder that happens every year at the same time. A rare form of season disorder, known as "summer depression," begins in late spring or early summer and end in the fall. Some symptoms of summer depression often are loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss and anxiety. In general, seasonal affective depression starts in the fall or winter and ends in spring or early summer.
Seasonal affective depression affects 4% to 6% of people in the US accordingly to Psychology Today and WebMD. SAD typically causes depression as the days get shorter and colder. But about 10% of people with SAD get it in the reverse and the onset of summer triggers their depression symptoms. An article in WebMD notes that some studies have shown some countries near the equator, for example India, summer SAD is more common than winter SAD.
What causes seasonal changes depression? Unfortunately, there are no exact causes of SAD, Scientists think that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of the year. Or perhaps people become overwhelmed with body image issues, financial worries, heat, or various things that come with summer.
Here is a brief story of my experience and some tips that have supported me during the summer season:
In summer of 2012, I was going through it; let's just say it was the darkest moments of my life. I had experienced some life changing news earlier that year; I blocked the issue throughout the early months of the year. But when summer time hit my whole vibe went downhill. I did not want to leave my house or be around anybody. My daily routine was to wake up, shower (If I had the desire), eat breakfast, go to work, be miserable at work, leave work, be miserable on the subway ride home, come home, eat, maybe shower and go to sleep. I would literally sleep from 8pm until it was time for me to wake up in the morning to go to work. I would decline invitations where I know everyone would be joyful, b/c I knew I did not want to pretend to be joyful and be asked questions if I appeared or acted otherwise. I would only go out with my close friends and sisters, and pretend I was ok, but in reality I wanted to be home crying and sleeping. I gained a lot of weight that summer and when I went for my routine check up my vitamin D levels was low, my doctor was concerned and I just did not care.
Fast forward now and few summers later, I made a commitment to myself that All Summer 16'; I will be grounded in joy, harmony and passion. I will follow my spirit guide and be the flow of life's love and joy. I also get to open myself up to endless possibilities and do all things that will support my well being. Often times I tend to over commit myself to people and events during the summertime, not because I want to be up in the mix, but more because the summertime is a time for reconnecting with people I have not seen all year and also I do not want to disappoint people if I say no (that is the people pleaser inside of me). However; because of profound self-awareness and therapy, I now can identify my triggers and work on my balance so that I get to create a purposeful day to day.
Here are some summer tips to support you to create a purposeful and fun Summer 16:
• Make an appointment with your Doctor to discuss your symptoms, that way you can get an assessment and be catered to your individual need. Yes, the term summer time blues can come and go, but symptoms of depression should never be taken lightly.
• Create an active "fun free things to do" calendar. Depending on your city/country Google "free things to do in the summer" and trust me there is a lot going on. See what sparks your interest or curiosity; sign up and create a fun pack calendar. Bringing out the inner kid brings so much joy to your spirit and it makes is easier to cope. Besides, why not enjoy the summer days at no cost.
• Exercise and keep yourself hydrated: Now exercising outdoors in the summer can be a bit risky, due to high humidity and heat wave. Now there are various things you can try. Wake up early and go for a nice jog or run before the sun and heat rises, sign up for swimming classes at an indoor facility such as the YMCA. Drinking tons of water.
Also, purchase fresh fruits such as pineapples, watermelon, strawberries to eat or make into a refreshing and healthy smoothie.
• Be around people: Yes, isolation sounds much inviting during these moments, but why not stretch a little and get out the house. Surround yourself with the people in your life who are positive and uplifting or join a community of like minded people. You do not have to force yourself and spill out every detail, nor do you have to engage fully in conversations. But just the energy alone can shift your symptoms. I do recommend letting these people know ahead of time of what you are experiencing and that you being around them is a way to manage and be uplifted. You want to surround yourself with people that will not sell out on you and hold you at your highest possibilities not matter your current situation.
I hope these tips are helpful and that everyone enjoys Summer 16. Stay Prayer Up, get some sun and have fun.
By: Alexandra Tatis, CONTRIBUTOR