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Filed Under: Educational, Personal
Summer SADness- Seasonal Affective Disorder

Summer SADness- Seasonal Affective Disorder

By Michelle Lunger

DISCLAIMER: I wrote this post in relation to how I feel. It does not mean everyone with depression or a mental illness feels this way. I am just trying to share my experience and others I’ve known. I wrote this as a way of expressing myself and my illness, the reality of my depression. It’s about the details that aren’t always talked about or publicized. Again, just because some of us have felt this way does not mean everyone feels this way. Each of us experiences things differently so don’t feel left out if you don’t 100% connect to this post! Everyone’s mental health is unique to each person. If you ever feel differently, tell us your perspective in the comments! We would love to hear your feedback!

 

Before I get into my experience with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), I would like to shed some light on the disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder “is a type of depression characterized by its recurrent seasonal pattern.” It can happen when you experience mood changes during the changes of the season, typically winter and summer. It usually starts and can even heighten as the season progresses and ends around the time the season ends. It may look different for everyone, but it typically looks like changes in mood and sleeping patterns, loss of energy and interest in activities, isolation, and even can escalate to depression, anxiety, or suicidal ideation (SI). 

 

My Experience:

 

Some may be surprised to hear this but seasonal depression isn’t just for the winter. In the summer sometimes I deal with seasonal depression. Especially throughout the past few years where the weather has been extreme. Either it’s rainy, storming, too humid, too hot, and now on some days, the air quality is bad. There are only a few days where I actually feel good being outside. And on top of that is this layer of guilt I feel for not being outside when it is light out for most of the day. And add another layer on top of that for body image issues, like wearing less clothes and having to show my body off more. It’s tough to deal with these thoughts so it’s been easier to isolate, even though I know it is not the best for my mental health. The thoughts just rush in. I’ll think “at least in the winter everyone is inside and sweatpants and a sweatshirt is the norm.” Sometimes the seasonal depression can even be triggered by feeling sad that you can’t go on vacation or maybe the opposite where you are having post vacation blues. It can be triggered from comparing yourself to others or maybe having too much free time or the constant schedule changes. The list goes on. When the seasons change it kind of adds onto the already constant changes that happen in every phase of life and it can become overwhelming, causing you (or myself in this situation) to want to isolate thus leading to sadness and potentially depression. 

 

But I want to let you know if you are dealing with this or something similar that you are not alone. How you feel is valid and it’s ok to take time for yourself and say “no” when needed. Just make sure you are saying no because you truly don’t think something will serve you; not because you prefer to isolate yourself or withdraw. And if you do decide staying in is best for you, do something good for yourself. Do some self-care, journal, mindful movement, deep breathing, meditation, take a shower, and manage your expectations. Being mindful and aware of how you feel is so important. If you feel yourself slipping into a hole and the change in seasons becomes overwhelming for you, just try to think back to some of these ideas for self care. And remember, it’s ok if one day you go on a “hot girl” walk or spend the whole day at the beach. And then the next day you decide you want to blast the AC, wear pajamas all day,  binge watch a Netflix show, and cuddle up in bed. Listen to your body and mind and make sure to still take care of yourself. 

 

Lastly, if you don’t feel safe, don’t feel like you have adequate support or if you are in crisis call 988 and they can talk you through what you are going through and give you resources. Take care of you, just know that it’s ok to need and ask for help.