Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a depressive disorder. It impacts people seasonally, most often starting in late fall or early winter. Typically, it can last through winter and into early spring, although a few people do experience SAD during summer months. It's important to note that SAD is not the same thing as the winter blahs or blues.
People of all ages, including seniors residing in assisted living communities, can experience the blues during winter months. It's cold outside, the days are shorter and darker, and you may not have as many outlets for physical exercise or hobbies. These are just some of the factors that lead people to feel a little blue or isolated during the winter.
But the basic winter blahs can usually be beat with activities and purposefully enjoyable lifestyle choices. Making it a point to get to the dining room at Cambridge Court to dine with your friends, joining in on group exercise programs to keep mobility up and embracing colder nights by cuddling up with tea and a good book are all ways people commonly beat the winter blues.
Someone struggling with seasonal affective disorder, however, can't always find positive ways out of their sad thoughts. That's because SAD is a type of depression, and that means that your brain isn't necessarily thinking and responding to things in a normal way. It can be difficult or even sometimes impossible for someone to pull themselves out of seasonal depression without outside assistance.
Someone who is diagnosed with SAD must present with symptoms associated with major depression. Those include feeling depressed most of the day, feeling depression on most days for an extended period of time, not having interest in activities that previously provided pleasure and experiencing problems with sleep, concentration and appetite. Other symptoms of winter SAD include:
Sleeping too much
Overeating or craving carbs
Having very low energy levels
These symptoms don't necessarily mean you have SAD, as they can indicate other issues. It's important if you're dealing with reoccurring depression or any of the above symptoms to reach out for help. Talk to the staff at Cambridge Court or call your doctor or another health care provider.
You might think that the good news about seasonal depression is that it eventually goes away when the seasons change. But there's even better news. SAD is treatable, and your medical provider can offer options that can help you start feeling better even before winter gives way to spring. That way, you can return to living an active life in the assisted living community and enjoying games, exercise and conversations with your neighbors and friends.