Summertime Blues: Seasonal depression for a Psoriasis Sufferer

Patient Expert

Summer is slowly creeping its way back into our lives People usually can’t wait to bust out from the hibernation of winter into the blitz of summer. When you think of summertime, what comes to mind? Is it beaches, barbecues, shorts and tank tops, fun with friends?

For the last 19 years I loathed the thought of summertime. Summertime for me meant hot days covered up and no trips to the pool out of shame for my disease. It also meant people asking why I had on long sleeves and pants. Thinking of summer actually gave me anxiety attacks. Looking back, I now believe I may have even been suffering from seasonal depression.

If you look up the definition of seasonal depression, the National Institute of Health describes it as “…people who experience a serious mood change during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight… [it] usually lifts during spring and summer.” However, they give the following symptoms of the disorder:

  • Sad, anxious or "empty" feelings
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping or oversleeping
  • Changes in weight
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

I remember having some of the above feelings as summer approached. I was irritable because I hated summer and envied others who could wear summer-type clothing. I even felt worthless at times because I had no power to do anything about the the way my skin looked. Feeling of hopelessness also came from 19 years of not being able to find a medicine that worked for me, which would allow me to truly enjoy the rays of summer. I felt sad, and anxious for the colder seasons to arrive so I could cover up and it not be questioned. When fall would start to show it’s face, I honestly felt a sense of relief. Summertime was officially over, and I could go back hiding comfortably.

Hiding my disease is not something I am necessarily proud of or would suggest, but it is a reality I faced with having psoriasis. We all wish we could be these strong, fierce individuals who can show our skin to the world without regret, but for many psoriasis sufferers this is not the case. I have heard many other psoriasis sufferers share stories similar to mine, while I have heard others share the exact opposite: using summertime as a way to catch sunlight to improve their disease. My story doesn't also have to be your story.

Depression is just another aspect of psoriasis most of us have faced at some point during the journey of this disease. But it’s not a place where you have to continue to stay.

Check out these tips on how to cope with depression from other Health Central Community Advocates:

http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/c/674/175407/recovering-depression-small/?ic=edit

http://www.healthcentral.com/depression/c/4182/128686/mild-difference

Sources: Medline Plus “Seasonal Depression Disorder” www.nlm.nih.gov. http://1.usa.gov/1z20JT6 (Accessed April 22, 2015)