I’ve got that summertime sadness – Julie Deverick BSDHTFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 7th July 2019
It’s likely that you’re already aware of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). We usually associate this condition with an onset of depressive symptoms triggered by shorter days, colder weather and darker nights.
But did you know that people experience SAD in summer months too? It is estimated that around 6% of the population is seriously affected by SAD, with up to 10% of all people experiencing mild effects from the change in weather.[i]Among this group, there are a further 10% of people who experience the condition in reverse – becoming depressed at the signs of summer approaching such as longer days, warm sunshine and heat. In fact, one paper even states that summertime SAD is more common than the winter iteration of the condition in places nearer the equator.[ii]
What should you be aware of?
The symptoms of summertime SAD are the same as that of the winter version – namely a craving for sugary or starchy foods, weight gain, a feeling of listlessness, as well as no drive to go out and do activities or see people. Effectively, these symptoms echo those felt by anyone experiencing a mild case of depression.
Alongside these usual symptoms, summertime SAD can also be enhanced by a number of changes to our everyday lives that summer brings. Perhaps one of the most prominent of these reasons is the sudden loss of schedule. Though this is likely to affect younger individuals with school holidays and those who have longer breaks away from work, the sudden loss of a strict daily schedule can result in people feeling useless and unsure how to spend their time.
Another possible aggravator of depressive symptoms is the pressure to feel “beach body” ready. A lot of summer fashion and activities involve showing off a lot more skin, and for people who are uncomfortable with their bodies this can quickly become overwhelming and lead to a lack of self-esteem.
There are a multitude of other possible factors that come into play as well – some people experience summertime allergies or a sensitivity to heat that may make them feel depressed. There’s also the chance that summer simply hasn’t met their expectations, which can have a further negative effect on their mental health.
What to do
The most important action to take is to craft a welcoming and warm environment where these people will feel ok to open up. If you notice any of your patients are particularly listless or fed up despite it being a beautiful day, it may be worth asking a couple of questions to see if they may be suffering from summertime SAD, especially as any mental health issue can quickly lead to bad oral health habits, and therefore decay.
By making them aware of any risks, you can hopefully keep their oral health at the forefront of their minds regardless of whether they are suffering from summertime SAD.
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[ii]WebMD. Tips for Summer Depression. Link: https://www.webmd.com/depression/summer-depression#1[Last accessed May 19].
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