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Depression When The Sun Shines

August 2, 2013 Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Many people do not know that depression occurs in the summer months as well as the winter.

If there is one thing I can count on in my life it's October. Yes, it's obvious that October arrives each year, but when you live with a mental illness, months can represent moods. And that can be scary. That said, I want to focus this post on a conversation I had with a relative who lives with depression in the summer, and thrives in the winter.

People Live With Depression When the Sun Shines

I have a feeling that many readers might already be familiar with this. And I suppose I was on a general level--I know depression afflicts people at any time of the year. It does not care if the sun shines.

My relative lives with bipolar disorder, as do I, and he struggles with mood as many of us do. He came to visit last week and we talked about our mental health a little bit. I mentioned how it's nice to feel stable for at least part of the year and he gave me a little smile. He told me that he was depressed in the summer months and not the winter (Seasonal Affective Disorder: Who's at Risk?).

I live in British Columbia where it rains and rains and rains some more and so I was perplexed. He explained that, while rare, seasonal depression can occur in the summer, and while I am enjoying hiking through woods and usually stable he's in bed and, well, sad.

I asked him how he works to stay stable and he told me a few things:

Get out of the house! This isn't always easy. In the winter months my body does not much like to move. But push yourself. Even a short walk. When I adopted a dog two years ago it changed my life. Regardless of mood, he needs to be walked and taken care of. If you can, consider adopting a pet or volunteer at a local animal shelter.

Remember that this too shall pass. That's hard to do when you feel low, but write down, in your better months, things to remind you that you will feel well again.

Research summer depression. I did this and found that it is not as uncommon as I thought. If you experience depression in the warmer month's research it online and you will feel less alone. I don't need to tell you how lonely depression is.

As we talked, I realized that the self-care steps we can take when depressed during summer months are the same as when we suffer in the fall and winter months. I realize it's August, and perhaps this post was better addressed months ago, but just like October will knock me on my butt, summer will arrive again.

I understand that some people live with depression on a daily basis---I often do---and so this is probably not news to you, but it might be for other people.

Share your experience: Have you experienced summer depression? What helped?

APA Reference
Champagne, N. (2013, August 2). Depression When The Sun Shines, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/recoveringfrommentalillness/2013/08/depression-when-the-sun-shines



Author: Natalie Jeanne Champagne

Katharine bisset
says:
September, 2 2018 at 8:20 am
I thought i was some sort of miserable person who doesnt like the hot weather! Its 2nd sept a lovely sunny day 21degrees but it makes me quite down. Im an anxious person by nature and i dont hate the sun it just makes me quite dizzy when I go out in it and use the bus for my shopping. I like not wearing a thick coat but thats about it. I like its starting to get darker in evenings i saw no benefits of light evenings at 9pm. I live where we tend to get alot of kids so naturally they like to play out but im fed up and cant wait for school to start on tues. I wish i could like our summers but a rainy day suits me more. You cant watch tv with sun shining thro the blinds easily either and theres the flies. I look fwd to a rain day.
Cathy
says:
August, 23 2014 at 1:56 am
I also noticed this pattern with myself. I always get depressed in the summer and ALL of my hospitalizations happen in the summer. I didn't think that it was normal but maybe it is. Sun is supposed to give you endorphins but it doesn't help me at all. Not that we get much sun in Ireland. This article really helped me thank you :)
judy
says:
September, 4 2013 at 9:32 am
I second the motion regarding animals. This time around, when the worst of my depression broke, I decided to adopt a dog because they help with a few things if you're suffering from bipolar: (1) they give you a schedule to keep as dogs thrive when on a schedule, (2) they get you out of the house (thank you for pointing this out).

However, I would like to point out that there are many kinds of dogs out there. Do your research and consider what breed will be best for you as it will be a responsibility you can't escape. I picked mine because the breed is naturally friendly, gentle, active but content sitting at home with you. To boot, and it is a huge plus, my dog is unusually sweet. I have seen her walk up to strangers who are upset and put them at ease. Plus she is really silly.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

J
says:
July, 6 2019 at 4:47 pm
Aw, I love dogs just like yours. She sounds lovely :)
K Young
says:
August, 12 2013 at 1:29 am
Summer is my worst time also. Although it took many years to realise this was the case.
I long for the early dark of winter nights, snowy days.
theresa
says:
August, 11 2013 at 2:30 am
my hospitalizations have been mostly Aug, 1 end of oct. so yes I understand summer depression.
Gaby
says:
August, 6 2013 at 8:46 am
This really surprised me, because I've never known about someone that was being thru this situation, sun shine makes me sad too, I love cloudy and rainy days, those are the happier for me. And somehow, its good to be different, most people love sunny days, I dont, and that's perfectly okay.
Anyways I try to give my best, those days only makes me stronger because I have to put more effort in everything I do cuz my body wants to be in the bed, that's all.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Deirdre Prewette
says:
January, 20 2018 at 7:08 am
That is me. Sunshine, esspecially in the afternoon makes me want to cry. Bright blue skies are pretty but tney make me sad. I feel much more productive when its cloudy. I do however do ok on tbe beach in the sun. Everyone says Im craxy. Oh well.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kelsey
says:
June, 25 2018 at 4:40 am
I experience the same things you do. I don't know why, but around 1-3 PM I feel really sad on sunny days. It has made me cry before, and then of course you feel worse because you're "supposed" to be having fun.
Angela E. Gambrel
says:
August, 3 2013 at 8:26 am
I thought that I was the only one! As you may know, I've struggled with anorexia nervosa and the co-morbid conditions of depression and anxiety. But it so weird — I feel rather strange starting with spring (I wish I could explain, but I really can't.) Then I start getting more and more depressed throughout the summer. I start feeling an almost manic energy around September, and believe anything is possible; I feel so very alive!

It's not that I don't ever feel good in the summertime; it's just that there seems to be a pall cast over everything.
Ash
says:
August, 2 2013 at 6:45 pm
I noticed a pattern in my most severe depressions; they would always occur in February and March. I still have no clue why my depression worsened during those months. Most of my ER trips/hospitalizations happened during this time.

I also get irritable in the summer, but I think that's because I can't stand hot weather and not due to my mental illness.

It's interesting to hear this from other people's perspectives. I'm not the only one who has dealt with this.

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