Seasonal teen depression during the summer may sound oxymoronic. After all, isn’t seasonal depression more common during the winter and shouldn’t teenagers be happy they are officially out of school for the summer? Teens with depression face a real challenge during summer, especially when their school environment is positive or neutral. Seasonal depression, although more common in the winter, also occurs in the summer. Many experts believe this is related to changes in schedule and the sleep-wake cycles with the longer days and shorter nights, as well as the hot, humid temperatures. Specific symptoms of summer depression often include loss of appetite, trouble sleeping, weight loss and anxiety.
Why Teens Become Depressed in the Summertime
Teens with depression require structure and schedules to keep their minds and their bodies focused and occupied. During the summer, all of structure and scheduling from school related activities goes out the window, leaving most teenagers with too much free time. This allows their minds to wander. Summer also comes with isolation and school provides teenagers with opportunities to remain connected with others by building relationships and friendships. These relationships help combat depression.
Many teens with depression have a desire to isolate because it feels safer and easier. The problem with this approach is that it makes the situation worse. Spending too much time alone may lead someone with depression to focus on their perceived defects. When school ends and summer starts, this allows teens to withdraw from classmates and friends on a daily basis. Isolation is common during the summer, which can potentially lead to increased suicidal thoughts and unhealthy behaviors. Other factors that contribute to seasonal teen depression include the following:
- Lack of daily physical activity
- Lack of academic challenges
- Lack of stimulation
- Too much free time
Tips to Help Your Teenager With Depression this Summer
- Enroll your teenager is summer school so he/she can stay motivated, stay focused and have a schedule.
- Enroll your teenager is some sort of outdoor camp, as spending time outdoors has been known to improve mood.
- Encourage your teenager to become involved in a summer volunteer program such as volunteering at an animal shelter, a library or helping pick up trash. Volunteering is a way to stay on schedule, socialize and have a purpose for something greater.
- Encourage your teenager to get involved in the community whether it is a church, a local theatre group, a sport or some sort of community hobby as this combats loneliness, which helps with depression.
- Encourage your teenager to land a summer job. A part-time job can encourage your teenager to learn how to manage money, stay focused, stick to a schedule, develop a work ethic and meet new friends.
- Have your teenager stay in therapy and continue with any medications to prevent any lapses in the mood.
- Spend quality time with your teenager by taking vacations, maximizing your days off and enjoying the summer together. Positive time spent with role models can help with mood and anxiety and build up self-esteem.
- Keep your teen on the same sleep and wake cycle as you do during the school year as disrupting a sleep cycle can worsen depression.
If you or someone you love is experiencing mental health issues and summer has been a struggle because of persistent depression and anxiety, Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program is here to help.
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