Covid-19 in UAE: Pandemic making summer depression worse


Dubai - Summer depression is related to climatic and life factors associated with the season.

By SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Sat 21 Aug 2021, 11:36 AM

With mental wellbeing in focus, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) is raising awareness about an issue that appears during summer.

Summer depression is related to climatic and life factors associated with the season.

Taking to Twitter, the authority explained the contributing factors:

>> Increased heat and humidity

This may cause biological changes that “affect brain chemistry.” It may cause discomfort and “the desire to stay home”.

>> Changes in daily routine

Changes in bed and meal times due to summer vacations may “trigger symptoms of depression”.

>> Financial worries

Travel- and vacation-related costs could result in increased anxiety and depression.

According to the DHA, complications from the condition include social isolation, substance abuse, anxiety or eating disorders, suicidal thoughts or behaviour and school/work problems.

What to watch out for

Emarati doctor Adil Sajwani, Specialist Family Medicine at Fakeeh University Hospital, said that summer depression is a seasonal disorder associated with signs that drain one's mental and physical energy. “Low mood, loss of interest and appetite, social isolation and insomnia are linked to summer depression,” he said.

Dr Sajwani asserted that taking the Covid-19 pandemic into account such cases in the UAE may have taken a huge toll this year. “Covid-19 pandemic has restricted residents to stay indoors, which may have had an unpleasant effect on mental well-being. Nature is a stress buster and mood booster that plays a very important role in mental balance, which we have avoided by being indoors,” he pointed out.

“The pandemic has brought along sadness and grief for many families in the UAE. Many residents not only suffered from the complications of the virus but also lost their near and dear ones, which have added to summer depression.”

Dr Sajwani also referred to the similarity between summer and winter depression, which is evident in Western countries with 60% of residents in Europe alone having been the victim of winter blues.

‘Covid vaccination: A solution for the disorder’

Dr Sajwani believes that Covid 19 vaccination could be the solution for summer depression as a vaccinated individual gains confidence to go outdoors by following protocols.

“Vaccination boosts confidence as it lowers the complications of Covid-19 infections, builds confidence in socialising, which is important to keep depression away,” he added.

Dr Sajwani urged parents to get their children vaccinated and encourage them to carry on with outdoor activities, following the Covid protocols.

The cause of summer depression may be classified into two, he said. Hereditary ailments like diabetes and blood pressure and diseases like cancer may be the cause of summer depression and lifestyles could be the second one. These include social isolation, excess screen time and no outdoor activity. “Apart from these, lack of vitamin D can also be considered as a cause,” he added.

How to beat it

Dr Sajwani encourages residents to carry on with their outdoor activities during the morning and late evenings to avoid the heat. He also advised residents to be socially active and keep screen time in check.

“Keep check of your vitamin D levels. Vitamin D supplements can be consumed if one is deficient,” he said. “The best way to overcome summer depression is to seek help from a psychologist. Your family can also be of great help to fight the disorder,” Dr Sajwani added.

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