Summer Depression

Depression is not only associated with the winter but some individuals can experience it during Summer.

Summer depression is considered a form of seasonal affective disorder, characterized by significant changes in mood, behavior, and a noticeable decrease in energy levels and vitality.

Symptoms typically begin in late spring or early summer for most affected individuals and end in autumn.

What separates summer depression from winter depression is that it occurs during the busiest and most active season of the year when lifestyle patterns differ from usual.

These circumstances can interact with sad events or continuous stress experienced by the individual.

Causes of Summer Depression

Summer depression occurs less commonly than winter depression, and so far, no clear cause has been identified for this type of disorder. However, it is believed that changes in the levels of serotonin and melatonin hormones in the brain play a role.

Serotonin regulates mood, while melatonin regulates the human biological clock. In addition, there are several theories about the causes of summer depression, such as:

High temperatures and increased daylight hours, which are among the main causes of depression during the summer season, as many individuals are forced to stay indoors to avoid the hot climate, leading to feelings of lethargy and a tendency towards isolation.

Exposure to sunlight, which causes hormonal imbalances, in addition, changes in temperature and exposure to sunlight can also lower the serotonin (the happiness hormone), affecting the overall mental state of individuals and leading to anger, irritability, and subsequently depression when interacting with others.

Changes in the individual’s normal routine and the inability to engage in preferred activities during summer due to heat and humidity, which can affect mood and activity levels.

Weight gain, as some individuals experience weight gain during winter, resulting in tight summer clothes and feelings of embarrassment and shyness in social gatherings, leading them to prefer isolation from others.

Financial concerns and the inability to bear the increased financial expenses due to travel and vacations during the summer season.

Risk Factors

The risk of summer depression increases in:

Women, who are four times more likely than men to experience it.

Younger individuals, usually between 18 and 30 years old.

Individuals with other mental disorders such as:

Severe depression

Generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks

Bipolar disorder


Eating disorders

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

Furthermore, this condition can become more severe and have a greater impact on the patient in regions with high temperatures, such as Middle Eastern countries, where temperatures can exceed 40 degrees Celsius during Summer.

Symptoms of summer depression

Decreased appetite and weight loss.

Psychological anxiety, feelings of distress, and intense emotions.

Insomnia and lethargy.

Difficulty sleeping (insomnia).

Lack of interest in usual activities.

Decreased energy and difficulty concentrating.

Diagnosis and treatment of summer depression

The symptoms of summer depression overlap with several psychological disorders. Therefore, individuals are usually subjected to multiple psychological evaluations, as well as laboratory tests such as a complete blood count and thyroid examination to exclude any physical causes.

Summer depression can be treated through one or more of the following methods:

Practicing meditation and relaxation exercises such as yoga to reduce stress and anxiety.

Psychotherapy, also known as cognitive-behavioural therapy, which helps the patient identify negative behaviours and thoughts and learn how to deal with them properly.

Medication therapy, where various antidepressant medications are commonly used to treat summer depression or seasonal disorders in general.

Preventing summer depression

Summer depression can lead to changes in individuals’ behaviour, low morale, and increased levels of stress. However, in general, cases of summer depression are temporary and can be alleviated by following some tips, such as:

Trying to stay in the shade and avoiding prolonged exposure to sunlight.

Going out of the house and avoiding isolation.

Maintaining constant communication with friends and family and engaging in social activities regularly.

Regulating lifestyle and maintaining a regular schedule of activities and daily habits.

Getting an adequate amount of sleep daily to avoid fatigue and general tiredness.

Engaging in light physical exercises regularly, such as walking and swimming, to maintain mental and physical health.

Engaging in relaxation activities to reduce stress, such as listening to calm music, meditation, reading, and writing.

Seeking out enjoyable recreational activities away from hot places.

Consuming a healthy and balanced diet that includes minerals and vitamins to provide the body with energy and help improve concentration.

Paying attention to drinking sufficient amounts of water and natural fluids to improve hydration and prevent dehydration, while minimizing caffeine intake.

Avoiding fatty and spicy foods and staying away from processed foods, replacing them with fresh foods.

Ensuring an adequate amount of rest time during the day.

Reducing the use of social media to alleviate psychological stress and avoid comparisons with different lifestyles of celebrities.

Seeking early medical assistance if symptoms worsen or when needed.

In conclusion, the symptoms of summer depression should not be underestimated as they indicate stress and depression that can jeopardize an individual’s mental health.

People who experience boredom, anxiety, and depression during the summer can follow a healthy lifestyle that helps improve their mood and mental health, enabling them to overcome negative thoughts and feelings towards the arrival of summer.

By: Dr. Badreyya Al-Harmi, Consultant Public Health, Emirates Public Health Association

Al Jundi

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