3 Signs a Loved One Is Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder
As fall turns into winter, the days shorten and temperatures drop, leading some people to experience low energy levels and melancholic moods. This seasonal disorder is sometimes referred to as the “holiday blues,” and can affect men and women of all ages. We will note that studies show seasonal affective disorder is more likely to strike women and young adults. If you’re concerned about a loved one, here are some mental health warning signs to look out for. If symptoms are severe, it may be necessary to seek treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Seasonal Affective Disorder Can Lead To Chronically Low Moods
Amid winter’s chill and shorter daylight hours, consistent feelings of hopelessness and irritability are widely-reported. People suffering from the seasonal affective disorder may withdraw from social interactions and activities they normally enjoy. SAD sufferers may also find it more difficult to keep their mind focused on the tasks at hand. It is important to reach out to friends and family if you notice their moods & behavior have shifted with the changing seasons. Even a quick text message or phone call to check-in on them is a good first step.
Winter Depression May Lead To Increased Appetite
People who experience the winter blues are also likely to experience an increase in appetite. It’s especially tempting to consume carbohydrate-heavy foods. Not surprisingly, excessive weight gain is also common during these times. It is important to maintain a well-balanced diet & get some sort of physical exercise, even if it’s just jumping jacks and sit-ups in the morning and night.
Potential Sign of Seasonal Depression: Fatigue
Feelings of lethargy during the colder, darker months of the year are yet another sign of seasonal depression disorder. It may be especially tough to get out of bed in the morning, go to school or work, and take care of other responsibilities. Your loved one may sleep more than usual because shorter daylight hours cause the body to produce higher amounts of melatonin, the hormone responsible for inducing shut-eye.
Seasonal Affective Disorder Treatment
The good news is that seasonal disorder is treatable. Because it’s linked to the decrease in daylight during the winter months, light therapy can go a long way toward combating symptoms. It’s important, though, to use a lightbox that’s specifically designed for treating SAD. Otherwise, your loved one won’t be able to reap the full benefits of therapy. Regular exercise (preferably outside) and a healthy diet can also be helpful, especially foods rich in Vitamin D (mushrooms, eggs, and wild-caught salmon) and Omega-3 fatty acids (fish, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and soybeans).
If symptoms are severe enough that they interfere with your loved one’s ability to function, professional help may be in order. Lake Behavioral Hospital provides comprehensive mental health treatment for seasonal depression and other mental health concerns. After a thorough evaluation, each patient is given a customized care plan that may include inpatient treatment, partial hospitalization, and/or intensive outpatient counseling.
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