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Man using light therapy to combat seasonal affective disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Recovery

Navigating Recovery Through Difficult Seasons

As defined by the American Addiction Centers, seasonal affective disorder (also known by its acronym S.A.D) is a form of depression that presents itself during the winter months. It is a biochemical response within the brain to the changes in daylight and the body’s circadian rhythm. Seasonal affective disorder is a very common condition – in fact, the American Family Physician estimates that 10-20% of people experience mild to severe S.A.D during the winter.

Seasonal affective disorder can make the recovery process increasingly more difficult, as it can be harder to cope with triggers and addictive cravings. People tend to self-medicate when the days get shorter and there is a lower abundance of Vitamin D. Those experiencing depression may use drugs or alcohol to try and numb those low-mood feelings. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that approximately 50% of people who struggle with mental health disorders (such as S.A.D) will also struggle with substance abuse at some point in their lives.

At Mount Sinai Wellness Center, we’re here to provide you with the information and support you need to combat seasonal affective disorder and recovery. To learn more, don’t hesitate to contact us today at (800) 353-4673.

How Can I Tell if I Have Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Significant changes in your mood that seem to correspond with the season change could be an indication that you are experiencing S.A.D. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, additional symptoms of seasonal affective disorder may include, but are not limited to:

  • Feeling low energy every day or almost every day
  • Not being able to enjoy activities you used to love
  • Fluctuations in appetite or weight
  • Trouble with sleeping
  • Feelings of sluggishness or irritability
  • Feelings of hopelessness of worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Decreased libido
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Restlessness and anxiety

More frequent addictive cravings can also be a sign that you may be experiencing this condition. The chances of developing seasonal affective disorder increase with age, and a history of substance abuse or other mental disorders may increase your chances of experiencing S.A.D. Whether substance abuse triggered seasonal depression or vice versa, our team of professionals at Mount Sinai Wellness Center are here to help you stay on track with your recovery goals.

Common Treatment Methods for Seasonal Affective Disorder

The American Psychiatric Association outlines several ways in which seasonal affective disorder can be effectively treated. These may include, but are not limited to:

  • Light therapy
  • Antidepressant medications, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Talk therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Increased exposure to sunlight
  • Lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise and stress management
  • Eating healthy and energy-boosting meals

It isn’t easy to combat seasonal depression, especially when also going through recovery. If you happen to relapse, or if you find yourself with more persistent addictive cravings that don’t seem to relent, seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible. Our compassionate, empathetic, and dedicated staff at Mount Sinai Wellness Center is always here for you. Seasonal affective disorder is one of the biggest holiday relapse triggers and we’re here to provide support and advice when you need it most.

To consult with a professional, please feel free to contact us online or give us a call at (800) 353-4673. We’re here to help you enjoy the bright holiday season without persistent worry toward relapse.