Can You Get Seasonal Depression In The Summer? (2023)

Table of Contents

  • What Is Seasonal Depression?
  • Can You Develop SAD in the Summer?
  • Risk Factors for Summer SAD
  • Causes of Summer SAD
  • Treatments for Summer SAD
  • When to See a Doctor

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Summer is billed as the season of fun in the sun, but it’s also a time of year that can spark depression. While not as commonly known as its wintertime counterpart, summer SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, does affect a portion of the 5% of U.S. adults impacted by seasonal depression[1]Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). American Psychiatric Association. Accessed 07/07/2022. .

Those experiencing summertime depression may feel agitated and restless, with causes ranging from changes in schedule to increased sunlight to the season’s heat and humidity. Read on to learn more about what seasonal depression in the summer looks like, as well as its potential causes and treatments.

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What Is Seasonal Depression?

Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a type of major depression that reoccurs on a seasonal basis. “It’s a depression that comes at certain times regularly,” says Norman Rosenthal, M.D., a psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychology at Georgetown University.

Seasonal depression is triggered when the seasons begin to change. Most often, it begins in late fall and early winter, as the days get shorter, and then improves in spring, as daylight lasts longer. This is called winter-pattern SAD, or winter depression. In other cases, however, seasonal depression can start in the late spring or early summer, called summer-pattern SAD, or summer depression.

In order to be diagnosed with SAD, you must have experienced a depression that lasts only during a certain season each year and that reoccurs for a minimum of two years, according to criteria outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Additionally, an individual must experience more seasons of depression throughout their lifetime than seasons in which they do not experience depression.

Can You Develop SAD in the Summer?

It’s possible to experience seasonal depression in the summertime.

“It started off with our recognition of people getting depressed regularly in the winter, which had a whole fit of symptoms and treatments on its own,” says Dr. Rosenthal, who was a pioneer in researching SAD as a new condition. “And then, after many, many people contacted us with their stories, it emerged that a sector expressed troubles in the summer. So that led us to say, there’s a summer SAD as well as a winter SAD.”

While both winter and summer SAD are driven by changes in the seasons, Dr. Rosenthal explains that summertime seasonal depression manifests as a separate set of issues from wintertime SAD. Whereas those experiencing seasonal depression in the winter tend to feel “sluggish” and “lackadaisical,” Dr. Rosenthal describes those with summer SAD as “agitated” and “not slowed down physically.”

Additionally, those dealing with summer SAD may experience:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Violent behavior

The symptoms of summer SAD tend to be less unified in their symptoms and causation than those of winter SAD, adds Dr. Rosenthal. “The winter folks are more alike to one another than the summer folks are,” he says. “Because summer folks are divided into those that cannot tolerate the heat, but there are yet others that cannot tolerate the light.”

Risk Factors for Summer SAD

Researchers haven’t yet pinpointed what might put someone at risk for developing summer SAD, according to Dr. Rosenthal. “There’s much less known about it,” he says, suggesting it’s due to the fact that it’s less common and less consistent in symptoms than winter SAD and doesn’t tend to last as long.

However, Dr. Rosenthal suggests that one potential risk factor of seasonal depression during the summer may be related to thyroid abnormalities (thyroid function can be influenced by factors such as light and temperature). Since the thyroid is involved in regulating metabolism, if metabolism runs too high, that, “can be agitating and may contribute,” he explains.

Other potential risk factors include:

  • Having a family history of summer SAD
  • Being female, as women are more likely than men to experience summer SAD
  • Living closer to the equator
  • Having a history of depression

Causes of Summer SAD

There are a number of potential contributing causes for summer SAD. This can include:

  • Changes in daily rhythms: During summertime, daily rhythms can get out of sync as the sun is rising earlier and setting later. According to Dr. Rosenthal, for some individuals dealing with summer SAD, “the day gets jumbled around in a way that causes them to be depressed.” Certain occupations, such as teachers, can also face schedule changes during the summer. The increase in vacations can also throw off schedules and routines.
  • Heat and humidity: For some people, summer weather can trigger symptoms of seasonal depression, says Dr. Rosenthal.
  • Too much sunlight: As noted previously, there is more sunlight in summer than during other seasons, as the days are longer. This can disrupt the circadian rhythm and therefore sleep, which can trigger depression.
  • Summertime social pressures: There are a number of social pressures unique to the summertime that can trigger seasonal depression. This can include worrying about how you’ll look in your swimsuit to fretting about whether you’re going to enough events and taking full advantage of the warm weather. Parents can face additional stressors if their kids are out of school for the summer, as they may need to juggle their childrens’ schedules while keeping up with work and their own responsibilities.

Treatments for Summer SAD

There are a number of ways to try to fend off summer SAD, according to Dr. Rosenthal. These include:

  • Taking cool baths or showers
  • Swimming in a cold lake
  • Wearing dark sunglasses
  • Adopting a daily rhythm, like looking at the sun first thing in the morning

Other remedies that may help ease summertime SAD include:

  • Going to air-conditioned spaces when it’s hot outside
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Talking to a therapist or doctor
  • Eating a well-balanced diet
  • Exercising regularly

Dr. Rosenthal adds that he also treats patients who experience depression in the summer with antidepressants. He aims to start patients with medication sooner than later to “try to head it off.” “Oftentimes, if you treat depression earlier in its curve, you have a better shot at getting it under control,” he says.

Connect With A Counselor

(Video) Seasonal Affective Disorder Can Happen In Summer

If you're in crisis or having suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 988 or message its live online chat service for immediate support from a trained counselor. If you're in immediate danger, call 911.

When to See a Doctor

“If you’re just feeling not yourself, or under the weather, try some of these simple things like keeping cool, keeping in the shade and easing up on social pressures,” says Dr. Rosenthal.

However, you should never hesitate to contact your doctor for professional help if you feel you need it. “I would say that if anybody felt any self-destructive thoughts or suicidal ideas, then they should go straight to the doctor,” says Dr. Rosenthal, emphasizing that it’s “not something you should be treating on your own.”

You may also consider reaching out for professional help if you’re having trouble sleeping or are struggling in your work or personal relationships. A therapist or medical professional can provide you with the treatment you need to get back to feeling like yourself.

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Can You Get Seasonal Depression In The Summer? ›

Riba: Having seasonal depression in the summer is not as common as wintertime depression, but mental health professionals do see it. For people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, manic episodes peak in spring and summertime.

Is seasonal depression possible in summer? ›

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), more recently known as major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern, mostly affects people in the winter months. However, some people can experience it in the summer. As days grow shorter and the weather turns colder in winter, many people find themselves feeling a little down.

Is there a summer version of seasonal affective disorder? ›

Ashly has summer seasonal affective disorder, a less common and much less understood counterpart to seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, a recurring pattern of depression that comes on in fall and winter.

Why does my mental health decline in summer? ›

production of serotonin – serotonin is a hormone that affects your mood, appetite and sleep; a lack of sunlight may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is linked to feelings of depression.

Why am I so SAD in the summer? ›

Vacations can disrupt your work, sleep, and eating habits – all of which can all contribute to summer depression. Body image issues. As the temperature climbs and the layers of clothing fall away, a lot of people feel terribly self-conscious about their bodies, says Cook.

Can you get seasonal depression in hot months? ›

People with summer-pattern seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — aka “reverse SAD” — typically experience common symptoms of depression for about four or five months each year when the weather is warmer, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Is seasonal depression only winter? ›

The depressive episodes must occur during specific seasons (i.e., only during the winter months or the summer months) for at least 2 consecutive years. However, not all people with SAD do experience symptoms every year.

Is summertime sadness about seasonal depression? ›

Summer is billed as the season of fun in the sun, but it's also a time of year that can spark depression. While not as commonly known as its wintertime counterpart, summer SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, does affect a portion of the 5% of U.S. adults impacted by seasonal depression.

Can seasonal affective disorder start in August? ›

Some people get a rare form of SAD called “summer depression.” It starts in the late spring or early summer and ends in the fall. It's less common than the seasonal affective disorder that tends to come during winter.

What are the worst months for seasonal affective disorder? ›

The most common period for the onset of a SAD episode is late October through November. January and February are the worst months overall, and the symptoms don't fully subside until early May.

Why do I not feel good in summer? ›

Lower levels of melatonin can be one of the reasons why you may be feeling low in the sunlight. Also, higher the temperature outside and depending on big your body is, your body has to work really hard to keep you cool, which means sweat. This process drains your body of energy.

Is mental health better in summer or winter? ›

Summer Months and Better Mental Health

People often report the best mental health in the summer months. This is due to a myriad of factors including longer days, increase vitamin D, and other factors. It is important to use the summer months to plan outdoor activities with your children.

Why do I feel bad every summer? ›

Some people become sick as a result of the arrival of summer. This condition is known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD. Most recently, it's referred to as major depressive disorder (MDD) with seasonal pattern. Seasonal affective disorder comes with the apt acronym SAD.

Why do I get the summer blues? ›

Some evidence suggests that too much sunlight, or the lack of it, disrupts the body's circadian rhythms. Too much sun can reduce the body's production of melatonin, which can wreak havoc on the sleep-wake cycle. “Sleep — either too much or too little — is a very important factor in depression,” Bera explains.

What is summer depression in psychology? ›

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that's related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you're like most people with SAD , your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody.

What is summer anxiety? ›

Summer Anxiety is a form of Seasonal Affective Disorder that happens during the summer. Experts believe that summer SAD may be due to too much sunlight. This throws off our circadian rhythm, our body's natural sleep-wake cycle. As a result, people with summer SAD, struggle to sleep as much as they need to.

Does summer affect your mood? ›

High temperatures can impact our moods and ability to regulate responses within our mental health as well as our physical self. Low moods, anxiety, insomnia, moodiness, irritability, and physical aches all may be symptoms of exposure to heat.

Can heat make people depressed? ›

Extreme heat has been associated with a range of mental health impacts in research over many years, including increases in irritability and symptoms of depression and with an increase in suicide.

What season has the most seasonal depression? ›

SAD is a type of depression that happens during a certain season of the year—most often fall and winter. There is no clear cause of SAD. Less sunlight and shorter days are thought to be linked to a chemical change in the brain and may be part of the cause of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

What states have the most seasonal depression? ›

Seasonal depression in each state

Alaska, Vermont and New Hampshire are the states most affected by seasonal depression. Florida, Hawaii and Arizona are the states least affected by seasonal depression.

Do SAD lamps really work? ›

“Light therapy is not a cure, but it has been shown to help reduce symptoms that come with depression such as lack of energy, trouble sleeping, anxiety, as well as feelings of sadness, hopelessness and irritability,” says Eric C. Alcera, M.D., a behavioral health specialist at Hackensack Meridian Health.

Do I have reverse SAD? ›

Winter SAD may reflect typical symptoms of depression, but reverse SAD is uniquely characterised by symptoms like insomnia, anxiety, agitation, weight loss, and decreased appetite. Where winter SAD can be attributable to a decrease in light exposure, reverse SAD could be due to an over-exposure of light.

Is seasonal depression a form of bipolar? ›

Seasonal affective disorder is a mental health condition that is triggered by the changing of the seasons. This condition is a subtype of major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder.

What percent of people get seasonal depression? ›

About 5 percent of adults in the U.S. experience SAD and it typically lasts about 40 percent of the year. It is more common among women than men. SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter.

What are seasonal depression periods? ›

SAD is sometimes known as "winter depression" because the symptoms are more apparent and tend to be more severe at this time of the year. The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days start getting shorter. They are most severe during December, January and February.

Does vitamin D help with seasonal depression? ›

In mild cases of seasonal depression, vitamin D supplementation demonstrates improvements in daily mood, fatigue, and other symptoms.

How do I get over summer ending? ›

7 Tips for Dealing with the End of Summer Blues
  1. Vitamin D. ...
  2. Plan a vacation. ...
  3. Re-evaluate your goals. ...
  4. Get excited about it. ...
  5. Turn your home into a sanctuary. ...
  6. Indulge in self-care. ...
  7. Get help and see a professional who actually cares about helping others.
Oct 19, 2018

Why is my anxiety worse in August? ›

Warm temperatures can aggravate anxiety and its symptoms. Being exposed to hot temperatures can cause both an increase in anxiety-like symptoms and anxiety and its symptoms for some people. Here's why: The body keeps its temperature within a narrow range: between 97º F to 99º F (36.1ºC to 37.2º C).

What is the hardest month of SAD? ›

The most difficult months for people with SAD in the US tend to be January and February, but it improves with the arrival of spring.

Can you have SAD all year round? ›

If you have SAD, you'll experience depression during some seasons in particular, or because of certain types of weather or temperature. You can experience it in winter or summer.

Why does summer feel so lonely? ›

One could blame SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), a type of depression that follows the seasons. It is more commonly known as a "winter depression", but there is also a summer depression (although more rare), and both are related to the changes in the amount of daylight we get.

Why am I so lazier in summer? ›

The heat is contributing to tiredness and lethargy. The excessive sweat that occurs during summer drains out all the energy that we store. Thus, it is very common to feel a bit lazy during the summer. Due to heat, we even lose our appetite and the heat takes a toll on our body.

How do you treat summer anxiety? ›

Get more exercise. Making the time to exercise more during the summer can not only help distract someone from anxious thoughts, but it can also boost self confidence and overall health. Feeling good about oneself can help to combat thoughts of anxiety and self doubt.

Does anxiety get worse in summer? ›

Some people experience increased anxiety and panic attacks in the summer. This can be due to disrupted sleep, climate anxiety and pressure to make the most of the summer months. Thinking about overheating symptoms like high heart rate, sweaty palms and shortness of breath can also trigger anxiety and panic attacks.

How does summer affect mental health? ›

The increased sun exposure boosts our vitamin D levels, and can even improve mood, leading to better mental health. Spending time in the sun also helps your body produce more melatonin (sleep hormone) at night, allowing you to sleep better and overall feel better.

What conditions get worse in summer? ›

Anyone with chronic respiratory illnesses like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or lung cancer have a higher risk of symptoms becoming worse in summer.

Is summer blues a real thing? ›

A small percentage of SAD sufferers are affected during the warm weather and get the summer blues, known as reverse seasonal affective disorder. Sometimes summer can cause feelings of depression and anxiety, as well.

How do you fight summer blues? ›

2) Physical activity: While going to the gym and working out can really boost your mood, even a 10-minute walk can improve your mood. 3.) Get outdoors: Spending time outdoors hiking, running, walking, kayaking, etc. exposes yourself to more Vitamin D, which is important for moods and general health of our bodies.

What is summer blues? ›

It occurs when there is a change in seasons and typically results in depression. However, those 1 out of 10 people who experience SAD in the summer are often forgotten, because who could be sad in the summer, right? Nonetheless, those who are experiencing SAD in the summer know that it can be difficult to cope.

Why does summer cause anxiety? ›

Increased temperatures cause higher cortisol levels and palpitations, nausea, and fatigue. These symptoms can feel similar to a panic attack, which can make us more anxious when we notice them. Humidity can also cause symptoms of dizziness and dehydration.

How can I improve my mental health in summer? ›

6 Summer Activities to Support Your Mental Health
  1. Go outside and explore. Bring a book with you to read in a shady area, take a walk, or go hiking. ...
  2. Start a garden. ...
  3. Make a summertime playlist. ...
  4. Clean. ...
  5. Attend community events. ...
  6. Try outdoor meditation or yoga.

What is the fear of summer called? ›


Is weather anxiety real? ›

Weather-related anxiety is common, especially in children and people who have previously experienced major weather events. Signs of weather-related anxiety include obsessive thoughts about the potential for storms, distress when you know a thunderstorm is forecasted, and extreme fear or dread during weather events.

Is summer better than winter for mental health? ›

People often report the best mental health in the summer months. This is due to a myriad of factors including longer days, increase vitamin D, and other factors. It is important to use the summer months to plan outdoor activities with your children.

What is the least depressed state in America? ›

States with the Lowest Depression Rates
  1. Hawaii. Hawaii has the lowest depression rate in the U.S. of 11.76%. ...
  2. New Jersey. New Jersey has the second-lowest depression rate in the United States of 12.98%. ...
  3. 3. California. California's depression rate of 14.48% is the third-lowest in the country. ...
  4. New York. ...
  5. Texas.

What state is best to live in with seasonal depression? ›

The sunny three: Arizona, Florida and Hawaii.

These three states account for seven of the ten cities with the sunniest winters. If you're feeling the effects of S.A.D., you might want to spend a week in one of these three places.

Is there a cure for SAD? ›

A number of treatments are available for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), including cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), antidepressants and light therapy. A GP will recommend the most suitable treatment option for you, based on the nature and severity of your symptoms.

What season do people get depressed? ›

In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Less commonly, people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer.

What is the meaning of summer blues? ›

What Is the Summer Blues? According to UCI Health, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is what we call summer blues. SAD is best known as a major depressive disorder manifested in the way people get restless, agitated, and have trouble sleeping and eating.

Can heat trigger depression? ›

Extreme heat has been associated with a range of mental health impacts in research over many years, including increases in irritability and symptoms of depression and with an increase in suicide.

Is anxiety worse in summer or winter? ›

Research has found that many find their anxiety worse in the summer with warmer temperatures. An online poll we conducted found similar results, where 73 percent of respondents said they have more anxiety and symptoms during the summer. There are both biological and behavioral reasons for this.

What season makes people happy? ›

According to the research, the better weather and longer days contribute to several factors that make us feel happier. The research shows that during the summer our diet and the physical activities we perform improve.


1. Summertime blues: Doctors say seasonal affective disorder can happen during summer
(News 12)
2. summer depression!
(iris olympia)
3. Dear Dr. Michelle - Can You Have Seasonal Depression in the Summer?
(Nexus Family Healing)
4. "Summertime Blues" | Seasonal Affective disorder isn't just a winter issue
5. Why Winter Makes You SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder Explained
(The Royal Institution)
6. Summer Depression: Do You Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?
(Gregory Jantz)


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