“Summer means happy times and good sunshine. It means going to the beach, going to Disneyland, having fun.” - Brian Wilson
Yea! Summer’s here and surf’s up! School’s out and the livin’ is easy! Pull out the barbeque (actually, mine’s out all year long!), the flip flops and sunscreen. Time to party!
And summer is like that for a lot of us. But for others, summer can be the gloomiest, most difficult time of the year.
How is this so? Well, some people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD usually shows up in the winter: When days are colder and shorter, about 4% to 6% of the US population feels an onset of mild to severe depression. But about 10% of people with SAD experience it in the summer (especially in countries nearer the equator).
Why? It’s not totally clear but, for some people, the summer (like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day) represents unfulfilled desires and unmet expectations. While other people seem to be enjoying exotic vacations, family gatherings and outdoor adventures, these folks might feel that their life is going nowhere.
Summers also disrupt schedules. Kids are home and need to be cared for and entertained. Work is disrupted by vacations and often a general lackadaisical attitude we seem to adopt in summer months. Sleep patterns and even normal meal times can get thrown off by later sunsets and earlier sunrises. For people who have used a steady routine to assist with depressive symptoms, summer can wreak havoc.
And of course, body image issues pop up. Hotter weather means skimpier clothes – and embarrassment for people who don’t feel good about their bodies. Then there’s the financial strain of summer camps and vacations. Oh, and what about the heat? It can be sweltering in many parts of the country, leading people to hide out in the air conditioning and miss their normal social interactions or exercise . . .
All of a sudden, summer ain’t sounding so sweet!
Truth is that summer is just another season. It has its own personality, benefits and downsides. It can be a time of wonder and fun (like all seasons) or a time of pain and desolation. It’s your choice.
Except when it’s not.
People who have depression don’t experience choice. I’m not talking about “situational depression” where you’ve lost a loved one or been severely disappointed and need time to recover. That is part of our human experience.
But for some people, life itself seems to be the situation that depresses them. It might get worse -- with the season, with a heart break, with the time of the month or status of the moon – but it never fully goes away.
And as one friend described it, “You can’t pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you haven’t got any boots.”
Author Andrew Solomon wrote, “One of the things that frequently gets lost in descriptions of depression is that the depressed person often knows that it is a ludicrous condition to feel so disabled by the ordinary business of quotidian life.” Yet they still feel disabled.
In our culture today, depression – mild to severe -- seems to be running rampant. I could write a bazillion pages about why I think that’s so! But the more important questions is, “What to do about it?” And if you or someone you care about is depressed, where do you turn? Some options:
- Handle It Yourself: Maybe. Depression is generally not a DIY project you can conquer by yourself. But if your symptoms are mild, you may benefit from meditation, forgiveness practices, and even exercise and better nutrition.
- Medication: I’m not a big fan. I know many folks get relief from medications and you need to determine what’s best for you. (But I will point out that the original studies of some of the most popular anti-depressants did not show positive results when compared to placebos.) If you do go the medication route, consider finding a doctor whose goal would be to ultimately wean you from them.
- Counseling: I applaud all of the sincere, hard-working therapists out there! Sometimes “talk therapy” can really help. That said, depression lives in your very neurology, in the wiring of your brain. If the counseling you choose doesn’t address that component, its effects will likely not last.
- Mental Emotional Release® Therapy: Disclaimer! This is a process that I’ve helped develop and I teach. But I teach it and promote it because it works.
The Mental Emotional Release® process (MER®) unearths the “root cause” of your depression. The root cause may not be an event that you remember, or even an event that was very dramatic. But when the root cause is discovered and “released,” it acts like a domino effect, releasing all subsequent events. When complete, you remember the events but without the charge. The sadness, anger, guilt and fear of the past no longer control your emotions in the present.
Whether your depression is related to the season or just is more apparent at this time, use this summer to finally take the steps you need to take to move beyond it.
And the livin' will be easy!
Until next time... Mahalo!
Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership, where students learn Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna and Hypnosis. To learn more about NLP and MER to release depression, click here to learn about our brand new Integrative NLP Practitioner Certification® Training.