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Coping with Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective DisorderSeasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects millions of Americans each year. It can be even more challenging to navigate if you’re in recovery. With the right practices and support, coping with seasonal depression is more than possible. In fact, you may find yourself feeling better than ever before.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), SAD is “a condition in which some people experience a significant mood change when the seasons change.” SAD usually comes about during the fall and winter when there is less sunlight and the days are shorter. Many people are forced to stay inside because of the weather, leading to less socialization and Vitamin D.

A Subtype of Depression

Even though it affects millions of people, SAD is not considered a mental health disorder on its own. Instead, it’s a subtype of depression known as seasonal depression. People affected may experience prolonged depression, like that of major depressive disorder (MDD). They may also have manic and depressive episodes that are similar to bipolar disorder.

Causes of SAD

According to a 2015 study in Depression Research and Treatment, people with SAD “have difficulty regulating the neurotransmitter serotonin,” which is believed to be responsible for balancing your mood. The study mentions that people with SAD “may also have difficulty with overproduction of melatonin.” This hormone is usually produced in response to darkness. Production will increase when the days get shorter in the winter. In response, people with SAD can feel extra sleepy, lethargic, and even depressed.

Decreased serotonin and increased melatonin can impact a human’s natural circadian rhythm. However, these are not the only causes of SAD. Depression Research and Treatment notes that key causes are continuing to be researched. The only absolute cause for seasonal depression is the change of seasons.

Who Can Develop SAD?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says millions of Americans experience SAD. In most cases, SAD begins in young adulthood, and it occurs more often in women than in men.

Winter is the most common season for SAD because of shorter daylight hours. Those who live in northern areas, like Alaska or New England, can be even more affected because daylight hours there are shorter than usual.

As far as genetics go, SAD may run in families. However, the risk can be greater if you have relatives who struggle with mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or generalized depression.

Signs and Symptoms

Coping with seasonal depression will become a lot easier when you can recognize the signs and symptoms. According to the NIMH, mild SAD symptoms can include:

  • Feeling down or depressed but still able to perform daily responsibilities, take care of yourself, and take care of others
  • Some trouble sleeping, but it’s not completely debilitating
  • Less energy than usual to do your schoolwork, job, or housework, but you still mostly get it done

If you have more severe symptoms, you may want to get some help. These symptoms can include:

  • Social withdrawal
  • Gaining weight
  • Oversleeping
  • Craving sugary foods

Coping With Seasonal Depression in Unhealthy Ways

When it comes to coping with seasonal depression, this can be done in both healthy and unhealthy ways. A common unhealthy way to cope is self-medicating with drugs or alcohol.

When you feel the effects of seasonal depression, healing can seem hopeless. Self-medicating may seem like a good idea at the time, but it’s not without consequences. When you self-medicate, this will only exacerbate issues like anxiety and depression in the long run.

Many studies even suggest that self-medication is a big reason why people turn to substances in the first place. If SAD is properly diagnosed, however, you can find the support you need to cope in a healthy way.

Coping With Seasonal Depression in Healthy Ways

If you’re coping with seasonal depression in a healthy way, you can build a strong foundation for long-term peace and happiness. The NIMH breaks up healthy SAD treatments into four main categories. These can be used alone or combined:

  • Light therapy
  • Vitamin D treatment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Antidepressant medication

Other ways you can begin coping with seasonal depression include self-care practices, holistic therapies like meditation, exercise, and social interaction.

Coping With Seasonal Depression in Recovery

It’s incredibly common for people to struggle with addiction and one or more co-occurring disorders like depression. So, when you’re in recovery, it’s more important than ever to get an actual SAD diagnosis. If you’re feeling “off” when the seasons change, it’s important to let anyone who is treating you know about how you feel. You may need to try new medications or different therapies that are specifically geared toward healing addiction and SAD. If you feel like you do have seasonal depression, it’s important not to shame yourself. This is an extremely common condition that can be treated in ways that work best for you.

Healing and Recovery at The Guest House

At The Guest House, we specialize in treating co-occurring disorders like addiction and seasonal depression. Our highly-trained staff is well-equipped not only to identify SAD but also to help you begin the process of healing.

What works for one person may not work for the next. This is why each and every person who comes through our doors is treated on a completely individualized basis. We also utilize a wide variety of both traditional and holistic therapies. This selection will allow you to find the treatments that work best for you.

When you’re at The Guest House, you will get to enjoy our beautiful 52-acre estate located in sunny Florida. This sets the perfect backdrop to heal SAD, get ample vitamin D, and find lasting success in recovery.

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a condition that affects millions of Americans each year. For those in recovery, coping with seasonal depression may seem difficult. However, with the right treatment and support, you will find that healing is possible. At The Guest House, we specialize in treating co-occurring disorders like addiction and SAD. Instead of struggling with the winter blues, at The Guest House, you can enjoy our beautiful 52-acre estate, located in sunny Florida. Our highly-trained staff is here to support you through every step of your recovery, and our wide variety of holistic and traditional therapies will help you find the treatments that work best for you. Call us today at (855) 483-7800.