Now that we're right on the cusp of summer, everyone seems to be in a good mood.
Your friends are talking about their summer plans, sunning themselves in the park and spending their weekend afternoons at rooftop bars as they bask in the perfect weather.
As you look around, though, something feels off. Everyone looks so joyful in tank tops and sunglasses, sipping ice-cold beers and margaritas. You, on the other hand, have never felt worse.
In fact, you feel really jittery and anxious. You're having trouble sleeping, you can't eat and all you want to do is sit at home with the AC blasting and the curtains closed.
Instead of sitting around thinking you're a freak of nature because of your severe summertime sadness and making yourself feel even worse, let's chat: Summer depression is real, people.
Let's talk about it.
What is summer depression?
You've probably heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Most people who have SAD experience symptoms of it in the cold, dreary winter months. If you're suffering from winter SAD, you may lack energy, feel lonely and lose interest in things that once brought you joy. Once the weather gets warmer, though, those symptoms seem to go away.
But about 1 percent of people who suffer from SAD experience symptoms in the summertime. Although sometimes the symptoms can look similar to those of someone suffering from wintertime SAD, they usually take a bit of a different form.
If the summer months make you feel jittery or anxious, make you lose your appetite or bring on bouts of insomnia, this may be what's going on.
As Alfred Lewy, MD, explains to Health.com, our bodies are experiencing a "delay adjusting to new seasons."
In other words, due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, you can't quite catch up to the changing seasons and your body reacts accordingly.
Of course, your summer blues could be for other reasons, too. Perhaps Instagram and Snapchat are making it look like everyone is having a blast, and you're stuck inside working a sh*tty summer job. Or maybe you don't feel quite as confident in your swimsuit as you wish you did.
In any case, if you're feeling down in the summer months, try to get to the bottom of what's going on.
What do you do if you think you're suffering from summertime SAD?
Because more people suffer from symptoms of SAD in the winter, more emphasis has been placed on figuring out how to treat it -- which is why light therapy exists.
If summer is what's getting you down, of course, light therapy will make everything worse. There isn't any official treatment just yet except staying inside.
While scientists have toyed with the idea of cold therapy, some issues could arise with that.
As psychiatry professor Normal Rosenthal explains to Science Of Us,
The trouble with cold therapy, which might be seen as the equivalent of light therapy, is that it doesn't seem to last. If you're in the cool air conditioning, it helps you while you're in it, but then when you go outside — my patients have described it as being hit by a wall of heat.
If you ask me, your best bet is to spend at least some portion of the long summer days inside with the curtains drawn. It's better than nothing.
If you think you suffer from summer depression, don't be afraid to talk to your doctor about it. Like any form of depression, it should be taken seriously.