I love the summer, and I have a feeling I’m not alone! Schedules are relaxed, days are long, and the ice cream has fewer calories (I wish!). All around me I hear a collective sigh of relief from teachers and parents alike. Just last night I told my son and his friend that they can stay up later as long as they let me sleep an extra hour in the morning. Yes, summer is wonderful!
If summer is wonderful for everyone, then why do admission and readmission rates increase in psychiatric facilities during the summer? There are a few explanations to this phenomenon:
Increased Alcohol/Drug Consumption
Teens tend to gather in groups and experiment with drugs and alcohol in the summer more so than during the school year in some situations. While this is typical (although undesirable) teen behavior, a kid with underlying issues with addiction, depression, or an undiagnosed psychiatric disorder, the effects of this behavior can lead to trouble. Suicide attempts and risky behavior increase when under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Parents should keep a sharp eye on changes in behavior and signs of substance abuse.
I don’t know about you, but when my schedule changes, I forget to take my medicine. Kids are no different, probably worse. Relaxed schedules means kids sleep later, like until noon (those were the days!), which means that morning dose of medication taken during the school year doesn’t get taken on time or even at all. This can lead to serious trouble if your child is taking medication for bipolar disorder, depression, or another psychiatric disorder. Combine this with the possibility of alcohol or drug use, you’ve got a real danger of relapse or worse. Parents, make it a point to discuss the medication protocol with your child’s doctor and follow it to the letter.
Any teacher can tell you that a major weather system change is coming based on the behavior of the students. They can also tell when there’s a full moon without looking into the night sky (ever wondered where the term lunatic comes from?) So it should not come as a surprise to learn that the increased temperatures that are so welcome in the summer can adversely affect bipolar disorder. The studies on this are new, but it might spark a discussion with your doctor if you notice some changes in your child.
So, even though we all might feel a little more relaxed this summer, parents keep an eye out for signs of change in your child and communicate with your doctor.