A reader asks:
Do you have any suggestions for someone who has suffered with summer depression for years. Obviously the light box won’t work. I am helped with Paxil–but do wean myself off of it, and then the next summer, the depression starts all over. I have been bothered by summer depression since my teenage years. I live in the south on the Gulf of Mexico, where summer temperatures and humidity become unbearable.
You’re on the right course: the primary treatment for summer depression remains standard antidepressant drugs. You are smart to wean yourself off Paxil in the fall, but you should resume it in late spring in order to try to prevent the next summer’s relapse. Some people with summer depression find relief in strongly air conditioned environments (and, believe it or not, by taking frequent cold showers)–but these measures are temporary, and mood and energy can plummet as soon as you go outdoors. It is also worth testing whether heavily filtered wrap-around sunglasses provide relief, although this method has been used mainly by people who become “hyper” or agitated each summer.