Have you ever woken up feeling completely listless because of the heat? Or found yourself so occupied with the weather that it gets in the way of the things you had set out to do? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then there’s a chance that you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as – SAD. Seasonal affective disorder or seasonal depression affects different people across the world differently.
While earlier studies on seasonal depression focused on cold weather and its effects on individuals, a lot of new work in this area focuses on warmer climates. This is especially in countries around the equator, where temperatures can be significantly hot during certain times of the year.
Let’s try to understand the phenomenon completely. First we take a look at what it is, and then we check out some possible ways to identify whether you are starting to show any signs of SAD. Last, we look at how to start working on them.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder or Seasonal Depression? Is it the same as depression?
Depression can affect individuals at multiple levels, and each impact will be different from the one before. When SAD happens to people, it can make it tough for them to go on with their daily lives as they were used to, much like depression. The key thing to keep in mind over here is that SAD is not a variation of depression, it’s a specific trigger that leads to the onset of depression. Like a trigger event, it can send someone into a tailspin and make their symptoms come alive. In summer or winter SAD, it is the change in weather conditions that acts as this trigger event.
Now that we’ve understood that seasonal depression, including its subsets – winter and summer depressions – which are formulations around the trigger effect – the next thing to understand is – how serious is it? Yes, all forms of seasonal depression are as serious as depression itself, with the root cause being different. We need to understand this through an example.
An individual may have lost their sense of confidence, owing to any major life event. This person differs from a person who is suffering from SAD in only one way – that their symptoms will be structured around their lack of confidence, while the person who suffers from SAD will show through their symptoms their discomfort around the weather and how it affects them.
Signs you should watch out for Seasonal Depression
As it shares a lot of symptoms with other kinds of mental and physical disturbances, it can be hard to distinguish between SAD and other types of depression. In fact, it can even be hard to distinguish between different types of SAD from other symptoms that do not contribute to SAD yet can appear to be its symptoms. Let’s take a look at some examples to understand this distinction and see how we can understand SAD and its initial signs thoroughly, with specific regard to summer depression, since it is far less commonly reported than winter SAD.
- You feel restless or exhausted right around the summer season
To distinguish between being generally tired or being specifically exhausted, you need to look at how long your exhaustion continues, and how the summer season shapes the exhaustion you experience. For example, if constantly being in air-conditioned rooms for work drains you of physical energy, then what you may have is a symptom of SAD.
You find yourself concerned about your body image, particularly about clothing, in summer
The winter season ensures that we wear multiple layers of clothing, which means that we get to show minimal skin, if at all. If you feel an impending sense of discomfort with your own body and how you look in summer clothes, then it may be a symptom of summer depression. However, also consider other factors that influence your relationship with your body image – such as social cues, familial conditioning, and other physical health factors.
You have trouble sleeping
Whenever your circadian rhythm cycle gets affected, it’s a sure sign that something is off. You can have trouble sleeping for various reasons, including stress, anxiety, as well as improper sleeping conditions. If the summer season features prominently in the list of reasons why you’re unable to fall asleep, then you may be showing signs of summer SAD. Try out OZiva MelaMag+, a clean, plant-based melatonin supplement that helps enhance deep, healthy and uninterrupted sleep with Melatonin, Magnesium, Vitamin B6 and Indian Valerian Root.
Your financial concerns become heightened during summer
Summer can be an expensive time: the electricity bill is through the roof, you have to spend a lot of money on getting the right foods, and you may even want to go on a particular vacation you’ve been saving up for a while. Whatever the reasons may be, if you feel overwhelmingly worried about the state of your finances – especially during the summer months – then you may be experiencing summer SAD.
Summer season makes you want to give up doing things you love
One particular feature of summer is that it is a demanding season. It makes you arrange your plans, goals, and schedules around it. This is why it can feel like too much of a burden, and you may want to just give up on everything – because it feels like the heat is getting to you and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you feel this way, then it’s likely that you are showing symptoms of Summer SAD and should think of ways to address some of the symptoms.
- Maintaining connections feels like an impossible task
Humans are inherently social creatures, and being a part of society teaches us how to balance our own needs and those of others. If you find yourself unable to maintain social connections during the summer season – be it with friends, family, or even casual acquaintances – then it’s quite possible that you have summer depression. In such a case you should definitely think about how to take some actionable steps towards recovery.
How can we recover from it?
The solution to recovering from seasonal depression – or summer depression in particular – is the same as that of any other mental discomfort. The most pragmatic way to approach it is to think of it as your weight: your ideal weight depends on your personal goal, on what you are comfortable with, and what you are willing to give up in order to be where you want to be.
In addition to this, even after you’ve achieved your ideal weight, you’ll still be in a state of flux, depending on what you’re eating. So, you can recover from summer depression by managing your symptoms, and setting realistic expectations for what you want from yourself – and making a plan for how you want to get there. In most cases, it is useful to go to a registered physician or psychologist for accurate medical advice.
With that said, here are some tips that may help you keep your symptoms of seasonal depression in check.
Try to follow a steady routine
Having a routine is an underrated way of maintaining your mental health. If you can ensure that you get up roughly around the same time – even a difference of as much as 30 minutes per day should be okay – your body will adjust itself to that expectation, therefore making things much easier for you (in terms of the severity of your symptoms)
First, start with a routine and see how far you can follow it, and when you find yourself unable to continue, change your schedule in small increments. This will make it much easier for you to stick to a routine, and thereafter, manage your symptoms as well.
Understand the triggers causing your symptoms
You may find yourself getting into a state of agitation due to the excessive heat, or the need to constantly keep yourself hydrated may be driving you up the wall. Whatever is your relationship with your specific triggers, the first step to recovering from summer depression is to make sure you know exactly what works you up.
Then, you can move backwards to determine the best course of action to ensure that your exposure to your triggers can be reduced over time. In fact, if you find out that you have serotonin deficits at the physiological level, then you can always supplement with OZiva Plant Based Sero.D3+, which will naturally help you feel better!
Incorporate regular physical activity
There are various advantages of doing periodic strenuous physical activity – it promotes neurotransmitters that are responsible for happiness and a sense of achievement, thus acting as natural antidepressants. If you are trying to contain your SAD symptoms, some kind of workout program will make sure you go the distance in terms of recovery.
Keep in mind that you should choose the type of workout that you feel comfortable with. If you pick a form of exercise that is too intense (or too easy) for you, then your mind and body will both not feel comfortable or challenged, respectively, through the workout, and it wouldn’t be as helpful.
An example program could be light cardio – where you just jog for 10 or 15 minutes a day; you can even take this up to one hour, depending on how comfortable you feel. Another option could be an HIIT routine, which will definitely be much more intense but will take you towards weight loss rather than just cardiological health. So, you should take your time before you make your decision about which workout routine to select.
Ultimately, seasonal depression in general and summer depression, in particular, can be managed, like any other mental disorder. Although summer depression is itself not a commonly understood phenomenon, there are ways to identify whether you have it or not.
Its symptoms are similar to a lot of other mood disorders, but ultimately its characteristic feature is that thoughts related to summer – how long you’ll have to keep the AC on, how many times you’d like to shower or take a bath, and so on – will dominate your mind. You can contain these symptoms by following simple and actionable advice, thus making sure that you can live without being burdened with summer depression!
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