May 01, 2016

Is there such a thing as summer blues?

Q: I've heard of winter blues, but is there such a thing as summer blues?

A. Yes. There's a type of depression — seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — that tends to occur only in certain seasons. It most commonly occurs in the fall and winter months, thus the term "winter blues." But for a small percentage of people, the onset of spring and summer can bring feelings of depression, agitation and anxiety. You might have trouble sleeping and even lose your appetite.

It's unclear what causes summer depression. What's clear is the importance of caring for yourself during this time to avoid worsening symptoms. Maintain your routine with regular sleeping and waking hours, eat healthy foods, and get regular exercise.

Avoid hunkering down at home with the blinds closed. Stick to pleasant, air-conditioned outings when you can — theaters, museums, libraries, a favorite restaurant.

If self-care isn't enough, talk to your doctor. Antidepressants, psychotherapy or a combination can be helpful.

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