Science Explains Why You're Feeling So Bummed Out Right Now

It's not just you.

Those lazy summer Fridays are winding to a close, and so are your days of "working" remotely from the beach. The much-anticipated solar eclipse is over. Your epic mid-summer vacation is over. Heck, even your late-summer vacation is probably over.

Yes, alas, we're into late August, and you may be feeling pretty blue. You can take comfort in at least one thing, however: It's not just you.

“August blues... are sort of like the Sunday night blues for a month,” Stephen Ferrando, director of psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center told New York. And, more than just a bummed-out feeling, the mood can actually be severe and persistent enough to constitute what is known as seasonal affective disorder — or, appropriately, SAD. 

You've probably heard of SAD, but associate it more with those cold winter days, when daylight and sunshine are in short supply. And indeed, lack of daylight is considered a "biological trigger," Ferrando told New York

But August depression is real too, he said, and for somewhat different reasons: If you hate summer, you are eager to just move on and get it over with. And if you love summer, you're probably feeling panicked that it's coming to an end. And either way, you may experience guilt that you're not using this time as wisely as you should — and there's a lot of pressure and stress associated with that perception (and reality) of time passing.

So are you just bummed that your vacation is over, or is it something more?

“In order to be diagnosed with a mood disorder, you have to have at least two weeks of pretty persistent symptoms that don’t really get better,” Ferrando said. SAD sufferers are considered a subset of those with major depressive disorder — or about five percent of the total population. 

Either way, cope by just going as easy on yourself as you possibly can. “Sometimes I feel guilty about [taking a break in August], and think I have to keep plugging along,”Rachel Annunziato, associate professor of psychology at Fordham University, told New York. “But I think if you haven’t already, this is an important time to give yourself a bit of a break.”

Get some rest, organize your life, and set your intentions for fall.

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