Growing up I remember hearing the term, the “Dog Days of Summer” in July and August. We were warned that during this time dogs were prone to madness, wounds were slower to heal, and it was not safe to swim in stagnant lake water. Some credit the Romans with the naming of the period for the rise of Sirius, the “dog star,” whose simultaneous climb in the heavens was thought to increase the heat of the Sun, creating a malaise in humans and a period of general stagnation.
Some people experience this stagnation and“boredom” whether the weather is hot or not. The French describe it as “ennui,” being generally disinterested in just about everything. Malaise and lack of energy can begin and end the day, and there is really nothing that brings feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. These are true “dog days.” These are some of the more subtle signs of depression.
Not just adults suffer from depression. Some 2.5 percent of school-aged children and about 8 percent of adolescents are estimated by the National Institute of Mental Health to meet the criteria for clinical depression. These numbers are probably low as diagnosis is often overlooked. Some children suffer periods of dysthymia, a low-grade of depression, for long periods of time and do not receive assessment and treatment as parents hope for the best or mistake warning signs as behavior problems.
Kids and adults can be bored and have malaise without being depressed. But the true “dog days”of depression do not lift when September arrives.