Winter is known for dampening spirits, so summer can be a time to rejoice for people with depression. I’ve always noticed that during the winter, my depression deepens, but it is important to note that not everyone with depression feels relief in the summer.
Some have summer depression because of "reverse" seasonal affective disorder, or just have an ongoing depression that isn’t relieved during the summer. An older New York Times article stated that people with summer depression tend to experience symptoms of “agitation, loss of appetite, insomnia and, in extreme cases, increased suicidal fantasies.” Their winter counterparts are generally more tired, “crave carbohydrates, gain weight and sleep excessively.” If you think you could have summer depression, talk to a mental health professional.
Despite the possibility of summer depression, my suggestions can hopefully help everyone have something to look forward to in these hotter months, including people with depression.
1) For students with depression, summer might be a break from the workload. Take pleasure in a week or so off, but don’t get too comfortable. For me, breaks were almost deadly at times. This is because I had more time to brood and consider negative thoughts. Also, sleeping excessively in that extra time can become a bad habit and actually drain energy instead of make up for the previous sleepless nights. Make sure to set some goals you want to accomplish this summer and use time wisely while also relaxing. One possible goal is getting healthy again and exercising daily (especially if this wasn’t possible during the school year). If possible, get a summer job so you have a distraction – make it part-time if you need the extra time to relax.
2) Make plans with friends. Some might be more available than usual, especially if they are students. Even if you are all working, summer is the time when more fun opportunities open up, like water parks, tubing, camping and swimming in lakes. Plan one of these activities in a group so you have something to look forward to during the summer.