Crystal blue swimming pools, fields of lush green grass, golden sun tans, coconut-scented sunscreen, late hours with fireflies, less responsibility. Summer is supposed to be the best season of the year, which is why my worsening depression during summer never made sense to me. As silly as it sounds, I was actually kind of relieved when Lana del Rey released her single in the summer of 2013, because it gave a name for what I was feeling: summertime sadness.

Emily Stamp

SAD: Seasonal Affective Disorder  

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a mood disorder that occurs around the same time every year, and it is real. People who suffer from SAD have normal mental health throughout most of the year, but exhibit depression in a certain season. While most people typically associate this disorder with the winter months, 1 in 10 people with SAD will experience it during the summer.

There could be a few different causes for this. In regions with extremely high temperatures, the summer heat might actually draw you inside as opposed to outside. A lot of people travel in the summer, and if you aren't one of them, watching all of your friends and Facebook acquaintances explore the world can increase feelings of isolation, especially when no one else seems to be sad.  

A lot of times you're less busy in the summer, and while boredom doesn't cause depression per-say, being busy is a lot more distracting. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and agitation. Sometimes relaxing forces you to face some of the thoughts and feelings you've been hiding from the rest of the year, which can contribute to insomnia and loss of appetite.

Of course, depression during summer isn't always situational. Research has suggested that the month we are born can affect our likelihood of being affected by SAD, and which months affect it. Either way, depression during summer can be debilitating, so here are 5 tips on getting through the season.

1. Go Outside

water, salt
Sunny Liu

Sometimes it's hard to get out of bed, and while stepping outside won't make your sadness go away, you can at least be sad while getting some vitamin D. Vitamin D has been proven to improve your mood. You can work on your tan (just remember to wear sunscreen), or...

2. Do Some Sort of Physical Activity

Molly Gallagher

Summer is the best time of year for outdoors-y things. Going for a long walk in the evening can help you sort your thoughts. You can also swim, hike, or ride a bike, there are a lot of opportunities. Also, exercise has been proven to ease the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

3. Find an Activity to Keep You Busy

coffee, pizza
Lucy Carlisle

Anything will work, get creative. Consider your interests and passions. Maybe there is something you've always wanted to get into but never had the time for? Look up local volunteer opportunities, take a class, or start a crafty project. Art is a great way to keep you busy while also serving as an outlet for feelings that are hard to express. Whatever it is, having something to focus your attention on will at the very least keep your mind busy.

4. Go to a Farmer's Market

berry, sweet, strawberry, local fruit, local farm, farmer's market, shop local, organic fruit
Sam Jesner

Farmer's markets are a sensory explosion of colors, tastes, smells and textures. The best thing to get you out of your head is to connect with your body by using your sense. Even if you don't buy anything, you'll be able to sample the freshest, yummiest summer fruits.  

5. Understand Your Depression

water, beer
Marina Wollmann

Personally, the way I deal with almost any problem in my life is to find out more information about it. The more information I have, the easier it is to find a solution. Learn more about SAD and what the causes, symptoms, and treatments are. Also, work to understand your own sadness better. The best way to get to the bottom of it is to watch your thoughts.

I'm speaking mainly from personal experience, and these are things that help me. But if you feel like your depression during summer is too much to handle by yourself, talk to a doctor or counselor.