Most people associate summertime with good things: vacations, longer days, warmer temperatures, outdoor activities, and seeing friends and family you may not be able to connect with during the cold, dark winter months.

What may startle some people who have never experienced depression is that summertime episodes of depression are quite common. WebMD recently published an article about common causes of summer depression, including summertime seasonal affective disorder (SAD), disrupted schedules, body image issues, financial worries, and coping with the heat.

Is your partner struggling with any of these issues? Here are some tips for making things a little easier on your partner as the heat soars and depression creeps back in:

  1. Help your partner recognize what is happening. Your partner may be trying to convince themselves that because it is summertime, they have no legitimate reason to be feeling depressed. By having a caring conversation with your partner about what you are noticing, your partner may be more likely to seek help. Putting treatment off because it “might resolve once [fill in the blank] is over at the end of summer,” is no reason to not get help now. Depression symptoms left untreated are more likely to develop into a full-blown major depressive episode than magically resolve on their own.
  2. Try to relieve any pressure your partner may be feeling around summer obligations. We often feel that because the weather is nicer, we should be doing all the things we can’t do in the cooler months. But for someone who has depression, the pressure to perform–by going to cookouts, parties, and social gatherings–may become overwhelming. Talking with your partner about what they feel up to, and what maybe they could skip this year, may help. Also, your partner may be criticizing themselves, asking, “What’s wrong with me? It’s summer!” Validate their frustration and discuss what needs to be done to help them feel less frustrated.
  3. Be thoughtful about vacation plans. How many times have you heard people say, upon returning from vacation, that they need another one in order to recover from the vacation they just had? Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but they often involve a lot of planning, money, and energy. Your partner may not be up for it this year, but may also be afraid of disappointing you if they express their feelings. If your partner seems more stressed than excited about this summer’s vacation, reconsider your plans.
  4. Partners who have body image issues may struggle more during the summer. There are several reasons for this, including wearing revealing summer clothing/bathing suits, and having outdoor exercise routines disrupted by summer heat. Some people kick their exercise routines and dieting into overdrive in hopes of improving their body before a vacation or other special event. Dieting and overexercise alter brain chemistry and not seeing wanted results can spiral your partner into depression or an eating disorder.
  5. Help your partner maintain routines. If you have children, this alone may be disrupting your partner’s normal routines because the kids are out of school. If you do not have children, you may be staying up later because of the increased hours of daylight and the many activities that happen in the evenings. Routine is essential for maintaining balance for someone who has depression, and missing out on sleep can wreak havoc on your partner’s system. And despite what many people try, sleeping in on the weekends or when on vacation does not “make up” for it. Judicious selection of what events you and your partner will participate in, and making sure routines are stable, even when on vacation, is important.

Need more ideas? Check out 6 Tips for Summer Depression.