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SALT LAKE CITY — For many of us, summer means fun — there's good weather, time with family and holiday trips. But some of the very things that make this season so enjoyable can also trigger depression in some people.
According to family therapist Holly Willard, summertime depression happens more than you might think. "It seems like when you're outside everybody is happy; and if you're not enjoying yourself, then it's this feeling of isolation," she explained.
- Talk to a therapist, like a psychologist or social worker
- Plan ahead, look for ways to prevent summertime depression
- Get enough sleep
- Exercise, but don't overdo dieting and fitness
- Don't beat yourself up. It's OK to feel sad, and there are treatments to help you feel better.
The most common trigger: when high expectations fall short. This can include anything from not working out and getting your body bathing suit-ready to money issues that could restrict fun plans.
"In the past, maybe you were able to go on a vacation or do different activities that you're not able to do now because of finances," Willard said.
One of the best ways to battle back, Willard says, is a regular routine — doing the same things that work during the rest of the year. That means eating healthy meals, getting the right amount of sleep, and staying active.
"Exercise produces hormones and adrenaline that feeds our enjoyment and pleasure sensors in our bodies," Willard explained. " When we exercise, it increases those sensations — and it could be as simple as going on a walk."
Willard says instead of focusing on the things you are unable to do, find things you can enjoy free of charge. Most important, remember that you are not alone. "Nobody's life is perfect, and everybody experiences difficult things at different times," she said.
Whenever depression affects your ability to function on a daily basis for more than a month, it's time to seek professional help … rain or shine.