Ah! Warm weather! Summer sunlight! It's what everybody looks forward to throughout all those long, unbearable winter months. Well, not everybody. Some of us are winter people. We can't stand the summer heat. We hate sweating and suspect we'd probably be perfectly at home in Alaska. Personally, I hate it when people complain about the weather - it seems so futile - but firmly believe that if one absolutely must gripe, one should choose a season and stick to it.
Extreme heat can cause physical illness and even death in both the very old and the very young, as we know, but it also has psychological effects.
A large part of the population experiences seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the form of winter blues, but it has a less common cousin known as summer depression.
Symptoms include weight loss, lethargy, insomnia, agitation and anxiety.
While comparatively little is known about summer depression, it can be extremely debilitating.
On a milder scale, heat and humidity - like the stuff we've been stewing in up until time of writing - can zap energy and cause listlessness.
Heat stress has also been correlated with spikes in crime levels.
The standard treatment suggestions involve staying in cool air-conditioned places, but some who might commit said crimes may not be able to afford said air-conditioning.
Perhaps further research is in order, hmm?
Stay hydrated, and some of you may need to stay in the dark.
What the experts say
"Summer depression is not so much a mood disorder as a physical problem. For some, seasonal depression in the summer is related to a loss of social structure because everyone is out doing different things. Heat and humidity do the opposite of what darkness does. They disturb sleep and decrease appetite. If your body is very hot, the last thing it wants is food, which causes it to heat up. Stay in dark, cool places. Hydration and minimizing activity are important ."
Robert Levitan , associate professor of psychiatry, University of Toronto
"There is more crime during very hot summer weather when people feel more desperation. If the weather is abnormally hot and you're in an un-airconditioned environment, the stress involved might be enough to push you over the line to commit some kind of crime. It's more of a behavioural thing [than a physiological one]."
Laurence Kalkstein , senior research fellow, University of Delaware Center for Climatic Research, Delaware
"It would be wonderful if someone did a study on whether people who get 'summer blues' have spring/summer birthdays. Are prenatal birthing or generational traumas being reawakened at this time of year by the intensity of UV light? Sunshine may have an impact on their internal clock. That inner child is chiming to be listened to. If they could moderate the intake of light throughout the year , perhaps the summer sun's intensity would not induce them into such a crisis. To me, 'the blues' is a play on sunshine, as the sun's light is a shade of blue that has the power to enlighten, lift and clear old emotional stuff if you are willing to look at it and move forward."
Julianne Bien , colour light therapist, Spectrahue, Toronto
"The types of depression associated with summer are related to lethargy. Human beings have multiple ways of producing warmth, for example, by shivering, adding clothing, eating. There's only one way that the body can cool, and that is evaporative cooling or sweating. High humidity prevents this since the water can't evaporate because the air is saturated. This can result in lethargy, a mild stress condition and poor sleep, which can lead to a low-level attention deficit during the day. Impulsivity, accidents, attention problems and general irritability go up."
Michael Persinger , biometeorologist, professor of neuroscience, Laurentian University, Sudbury
"In extreme heat, I would be concerned about magnesium and potassium. Magnesium helps you make the mood-elevating hormone serotonin and the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. You lose magnesium through sweat. Green, leafy vegetables are the best source. Avocados and celery contain potassium. You can also takes supplements. They help the adrenal glands, which give you energy, drive and motivation. B and C vitamins will also help. Caffeine in ice coffee and Coke robs you of water, leaving you tired and lethargic."
Pamela Frank , naturopath, Toronto
"Make sure you sleep in the pitch dark, because it's only then that you make melatonin. The slightest degree of light pollution will send a message through the retinal cells to the pineal gland that says 'Wake up! Stop making melatonin.' I suggest wearing an eye mask to sleep ."
Aileen Burford-Mason , dietitian, immunologist, Toronto