The kids are out of school. Your neighbors are whistling on their way to work, greeting you with an enthusiasm peculiar to warm weather. And if you hear one more person ask you about your summer vacation plans, you will throw a U.S. map and atlas at them.
You don't mean to be grumpy. But darn it, you are miserable in the oppressive heat, your kids are home for 90 consecutive days, and you are don't have the stamina to pretend you are giddy that summer has arrived.
You're not alone. After publishing a piece recently about the trigger of Memorial Day for me -- reminding me that most of my relapses have happened in the summer months -- I've heard from so many readers that fear this time of year for the same reason: summer depression.
Ian A. Cook, M.D., the director of the Depression Research Program at UCLA, names five causes of summer depression in an article published by our friends over at WebMD:
1. Summertime SAD.
You've probably heard about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, which affects about 4% to 6% of the U.S. population. SAD typically causes depression as the days get shorter and colder. But about 10% of people with SAD get it in the reverse -- the onset of summer triggers their depression symptoms. Cook notes that some studies have found that in countries near the equator - like India - summer SAD is more common than winter SAD.
2. Disrupted schedules in summer.
If you've had depression before, you probably know that having a reliable routine is often key to staving off symptoms. But during the summer, routine goes out the window -- and that disruption can be stressful, Cook says. If you have children in grade school, you're suddenly faced with the prospect of keeping them occupied all day, every day. If your kids are in college, you may suddenly find them -- and all their boxes of stuff -- back in the house after a nine-month absence. Vacations can disrupt your work, sleep, and eating habits -- all of which can all contribute to summer depression.
3. 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. Feeling embarrassed in shorts or a bathing suit can make life awkward, not to mention hot. Since so many summertime gatherings revolve around beaches and pools, some people start avoiding social situations out of embarrassment.
4. Financial worries.
Summers can be expensive. There's the vacation, of course. And if you're a working parent, you may have to fork over a lot of money to summer camps or babysitters to keep your kids occupied while you're on the job. The expenses can add to a feeling of summer depression
5. The heat.
Lots of people relish the sweltering heat. They love baking on a beach all day. But for the people who don't, summer heat can become truly oppressive. You may start spending every weekend hiding out in your air-conditioned bedroom, watching pay-per-view until your eyes ache. You may begin to skip your usual before-dinner walks because of the humidity. You may rely on unhealthy takeout because it's just too stifling to cook. Any of these things can contribute to summer depression.
Alrighty, so now that we have a full list of what is contributing to our depression, what do we do about it?
6 Tips to Help Summer Depression
A version of this piece originally appeared on Psych Central.