When the sun is shining, the automatic assumption is that everything feels right with the world – but that isn’t the case for everyone. Anxiety, for some people who suffer from it, can actually worsen in the summer months, and it makes complete sense as to why.
Speaking to Refinery 29, a psychologist at telehealth app LiveHealth Online, Lindsay Henderson, PsyD, explained that the increased social pressure to go out and have fun can lead to higher levels of anxiety.
The pressure to participate in everything is a real factor in our moods,” she said. The psychologist explained that seeing other people out and about, doing fun things in the sun, can make us question how wisely we’ve spent our own time.
You think, ‘I should have had so much fun by now because there’s only so much left of summer’,” Dr. Henderson added.
But it’s not just FOMO that can lead to an increase in anxious thoughts. Apparently, the weather can play a real part, too. When it’s warm, the body’s reactions are similar to those of a panic attack, which can make you feel like you’re suffering from intense anxiety when – really – you’re not.
“Symptoms like sweating, feeling faint or shaky, feeling nauseous, having heart palpitations — all these things can happen both due to heat and panic or anxiety,” Dr Henderson told Refinery 29.
Along with anxiety, we also know that depression can occur quite commonly in the summer, too, despite the assumption that it’s only miserable weather that can negatively impact a person’s mood.
‘Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)’, which is also known as ‘Summer SAD’ is thought to affect around 10% of people who suffer from the regular Seasonal Affective Disorder. While no exact cause has been scientifically proven, Isabel Leming, Senior Technician at mental health clinic Smart TMS, told Cosmopolitan.com/uk that “it is speculated that the onset of symptoms may be a result of the longer days”.
“In winter SAD, reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression, and the change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood. As these have been linked to winter SAD, serotonin and melatonin levels are also suggested to be factors in reverse SAD but this has not been confirmed as a cause,” she went on to explain.
So if you’ve found yourself feeling low or anxious while everybody else seems to be outside, making the most of the two-month heatwave with picnic blankets and bottles of prosecco, don’t be too hard on yourself.
Just blame it on the weatherman, as the wise members of B*Witched once told us.
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