What is Summer Anxiety?

A Healthier Michigan

| 2 min read

Summer is often associated with rest, relaxation, travel, and a carefree approach to living. This isn’t always reflected in reality, however, as summer can bring environmental and lifestyle changes that may contribute to anxiety. The causes for summer anxiety and depression are broad, but some common causes can be found including sleep issues, schedule changes, and even summer onset seasonal affective disorder. 

Heat anxiety 

Heat and humidity can have a notable effect on summer onset seasonal affective disorder and summer anxiety. According to a study in JAMA Psychiatry, warm weather can exacerbate existing mental health conditions and even lead to an increased need in emergency medical care for mental health crises. The effects can be worse if you live in an area that doesn’t usually have high temperatures. According to a report from NPR, cognitive function can also be negatively impacted by high heat and humidity. 

Circadian rhythm changes 

Changes in daylight, length of days, and heat and humidity can make sleep difficult and can cause circadian rhythm interruptions or changes that can take a while to acclimate to. Higher body temperatures can negatively affect sleep cycles, according to a 2021 study, and humans’ body temperatures tend to peak around bedtime in the summer. 

Interruption of routines 

Summertime breaks many routines that keep us grounded throughout the rest of the year. School is out, work schedules may change, and vacations and travel can add stress. That can exacerbate existing mental health issues and induce anxieties not felt during the rest of the year. 

Summertime responsibilities and travel 

Not all summer travel and time off is used for leisure. Americans travel for many reasons including family reunions, weddings, graduations, and funerals. According to the Knot, 25% of weddings occur between June and August. Prices for travel and lodging continue to rise year after year due to inflation and demand increases, according to Forbes. These added costs and obligations can be a cause of stress for many people in the summer. 

Summer onset seasonal affective disorder 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) more regularly occurs in the autumn into winter months, but around 10% of people with SAD experience summer onset SAD, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which can affect their mental health in the summer months. Symptoms can include insomnia, depression and anxiety, appetite changes and weight fluctuations.

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