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Navigating Summertime Depression in Recovery

When people think of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the cold winter months usually come to mind. However, summertime depression can also be common. Understanding this type of SAD and learning how to overcome it can help you find lasting success and happiness in recovery.

Summertime Depression: Facts

Many people experience slight mood changes with the seasons. When these mood changes become severe, however, it may be a sign that you’re suffering from SAD.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), SAD is a type of depression “characterized by a recurrent seasonal pattern” with symptoms that usually last about four to five months out of the year. Estimates show that millions of Americans experience this condition.

Most cases of SAD begin in the late fall or early winter, but many people experience summertime depression too. This is known as summer-pattern SAD, a condition that can be even more difficult to deal with during recovery.

Summertime Depression: Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of SAD often look like those of regular depression. SAD is a type of depression, after all, but it also has some unique indicators of its own.

According to MedLine Plus, symptoms of SAD can include sadness; feeling “hopeless, worthless, and irritable;” low energy; and thoughts of suicide. People with SAD may also lose interest in activities they once enjoyed, have irregular sleep patterns, and even experience weight gain.

NIMH lists additional symptoms for summer-pattern SAD. These symptoms include loss of appetite, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, violent behavior, and aggression.

Causes of SAD

SAD usually begins in young adulthood and it’s more common in women than in men. According to NIMH, people with depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to have SAD as well.

It’s common for summertime depression to co-occur alongside other mental disorders, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, and eating disorders. SAD can sometimes run in the family and may be more common if you have a relative with other mental illnesses.

Chemical Imbalances as a Cause

Even though the exact causes of SAD are unknown, many studies have pointed to chemical imbalances in the brain. For example, winter-pattern SAD may involve imbalances of serotonin, the brain chemical that affects your mood.

Both summer and winter depression may also relate to altered levels of melatonin. This hormone is important for your circadian rhythm and a normal sleep-wake cycle. People with winter-pattern SAD may have increased melatonin levels, while those who experience summertime SAD may see their melatonin levels reduced.

The NIMH says that these reduced melatonin levels are consistent with long, hot summer days. This can worsen sleep quality and lead to depression symptoms. The summertime’s shorter nights and longer daylight hours may also throw you off your natural sleep rhythm, causing further disruption.

Summer-Pattern SAD and Recovery

If you’re in recovery, you may be feeling the effects of summertime depression even more. First, it’s important to know that however you’re feeling is common and it doesn’t mean something is wrong with you.

Recovery, in and of itself, can be a lonely journey, but in the summer it can be even more difficult. While others are out spending time at bars and parties, it’s easy to develop a serious fear of missing out (FOMO). This can spiral out into depression if you don’t have the right tools in place to combat it.

The summertime is actually perfect for recovery. You can create healthy new habits and routines, enjoy the fresh air in the great outdoors, and find sober activities to enjoy with people who support you.

How to Alleviate Summertime Depression

The summer allows you to spend more time outdoors in the fresh air. Fun activities combined with nature can have a multitude of health benefits for seasonal depression as well as your overall wellness.

According to the U.S. Department of the Interior National Park Service (NPS), frequent exposure to nature “reduces anxiety and depression, while promoting a sense of well-being and fulfillment.” In fact, just five minutes of walking outside can improve your mood and improve your self-esteem.

Incorporate New Summertime Activities

To begin easing summertime depression, you may want to think about different activities you can intentionally add to your day. Some ideas include creating an outdoor exercise routine, taking classes to become a stronger swimmer, or finding a group to hike with.

You may even want to take up summertime hobbies, like growing your own vegetables or gardening. You can also check out different summertime activities offered by recovery programs. The Guest House, for example, is located in sunny Florida where it’s summer almost all year long.

Find Long-Term Healing and Happiness at The Guest House

Summertime depression can feel debilitating, but you do not have to go through it alone. At The Guest House, you will find a comprehensive program to help you overcome your struggles in a safe, supportive, and exciting environment.

The Guest House is located on a 52-acre estate that allows you to explore the great outdoors while taking part in therapies designed to help you succeed in recovery. We offer a wide range of modalities that include outdoor adventure therapy, equine therapy, and more.

No two recovery journeys will ever look the same. This is why we take a completely individualized approach and encourage you to create your own toolkit for healing. Utilizing both traditional and holistic therapies, you will find The Guest House provides you with everything you need to rediscover happiness and enjoy lasting success in recovery.

Even though it’s not as well-known as the wintertime blues, summertime depression is a very real thing. If you’re in recovery, loneliness and fear of missing out (FOMO) can feel debilitating. At The Guest House, we have everything you need to overcome summertime depression and more. In fact, the summer may be the best time for your recovery journey. Located in sunny Florida, our 52-acre estate is the perfect backdrop for outdoor activities to help you expand your mind and your horizons. No matter the reasons you’re coming here, you will find everything you need to rediscover joy in life and create lasting success in recovery at The Guest House. Call us at (855) 483-7800.