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Does Winter Affect Mental Health Symptoms?

Does Winter Affect Mental Health Symptoms?

Understanding how seasonal changes can affect mental health symptoms can help those who struggle with addiction avoid relapse

The change in seasons can often bring about feelings of depression or sadness. This is most common during the winter months, when sunshine is scarce and getting out of the house is difficult, depending on where you live. Understanding what winter weather can do to your state of mind can help prevent depression and other mental illnesses, as well drug-addiction relapse.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Many people who find their mood changing drastically during the change of seasons actually suffer from a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression or mood disorder stemming from the change in the amount of available sunlight. SAD affects more than half a million people each year from September through April and is most strongly felt during the months of December, January and February. SAD is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings
  • Lethargy
  • Over eating
  • Social problems – like the desire to avoid contact with others
  • Sexual problems

The lack of sunlight during the winter months can impact our biological clock,” causing it to be out of step with daily activities. There is also a link to the sleep-related hormone, melatonin, which increases in the dark and is associated with higher levels of depression.

Dealing with the Winter Blues

Most people suffer from occasional winter blues. If you or a loved one finds the symptoms of depression increasing during the winter months, it is important to know if you are dealing with SAD and need specific treatment for that disorder. Occasional mood swings or feelings of sadness during the winter can usually be improved by spending some time outdoors each day. Regular exposure to sunlight during some type of physical activity can greatly reduce the symptoms of depression associated with seasonal changes. If you are a person struggling with drug addiction or are in recovery, talk to your therapist about your seasonal symptoms. Having a plan in place to help curb seasonal depression can protect you against relapse.

Finding Help for Seasonal Depression and Addiction

Seasonal mood changes can be difficult to deal with, especially if you struggle with substance abuse or mental illness. Getting the right diagnosis and treatment can prevent drug relapse and help keep you on the road to recovery. If you or a loved one struggles with drug or alcohol abuse, we are here to help you. Call our toll-free helpline 24 hours a day to speak to an admissions coordinator about available treatment options.

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