Ever heard of the “winter blues?” This is a term referring to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD for short, is characterized by a major change in mood occurring with a change in the seasons. For example, in late fall or winter a person with SAD might start to sleep longer than necessary, feel depressed, or have a lack of energy. It is believed that these feelings may be caused by a lack of sunlight in the winter months. As such, people living in the more northern parts of the United States are most likely to be impacted by Seasonal Affective Disorder.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is known to have a variety of complications. One of the complications associated with SAD is an increase in substance abuse. In order to cope with the depression and withdrawn feeling associated with SAD, sufferers may turn to alcohol and drugs to self-medicate the condition. This link to an increase in the use of drugs and alcohol can cause a seasonal condition to become full blown alcoholism or drug addiction. Additionally, Seasonal Affective Disorder may cause pre-existing alcoholism and addiction to be amplified. If this progression occurs then seeking drug and alcohol treatment may be the only option as addiction is both progressive and fatal.
However, there are ways to deal with SAD before it becomes something much more dangerous. As mentioned earlier, SAD is often associated with a decrease in available sunlight. In order to combat this, individuals may purchase a special light box. These light boxes mimic natural sun light and help the brain produce the feel good chemicals that it’s been lacking. In addition to light therapy, those suffering from SAD should make it a point to make use of the limited amount of natural sunlight available. Since it gets darker earlier in the winter time, those impacted by SAD should get outside in the early afternoon. Finally, those feeling the impact of the changing seasons should make it a point to exercise a few times per week. Exercise helps the body produce chemicals that may fight off this seasonal disorder.