Seasonal Affective Disorder, generally known as SAD, affects 10 million Americans each year. It is also known as the winter blues since it happens primarily in the fall and winter, though it can also occur in the summer and spring.

If you or a loved one suffers from SAD and addiction, it’s critical to understand how the two are linked. Because they frequently trigger each other with several studies connecting SAD with drug misuse. Here’s some information about SAD and its connection to substance misuse.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? 

SAD is classified as a major depression by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It can grow severe and disrupt a person’s daily routine and way of life. Although many individuals believe that feeling depressed or melancholy during the winter months is natural, the seasonal affective disorder is not to be taken lightly.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder 

Major depressive symptoms include the following:

  • Hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness
  • Disinterest in activities
  • Fatigue and lethargy have increased.
  • Lack of vigilance
  • Sleep issues
  • Weight and appetite changes
  • Suicidal thoughts

Those who suffer from SAD throughout the winter months may encounter the following symptoms:

  • Oversleeping
  • Energy deficiency
  • Excessive consumption
  • Weight gain
  • Cravings for carbohydrates
  • Hibernating or avoiding social interactions

During the warm seasons, those suffering from SAD may experience:

  • Appetite suppression
  • Loss of weight
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Anxiety outbursts
  • Violent reactions
  • Agitation

Who Are Susceptible to SAD? 

According to research, people who reside farther from the equator are more likely to suffer symptoms and develop Seasonal Affective Disorder. A center for addiction recovery in Murfreesboro designates some of the dangers, which include:

  • Mood Problems – People who already have mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder or depression, are especially vulnerable to SAD. They can, however, be diagnosed with SAD if the frequency of seasonal depression episodes outnumbers non-seasonal depressed episodes.
  • Genetic Factors – People with a family history of depression are more susceptible to SAD.
  • Gender – SAD affects both men and women, although women are more prone to acquiring it. SAD affects four times more women than males.
  • Age – Although SAD can affect anybody at any age, it is more common in young people. Those between the ages of 18 and 30 are more vulnerable.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: What Causes It? 

Seasonal Affective Disorder’s specific causes are unknown; however, several factors appear to be related. These items are connected to the changes in the environment caused by the changing seasons.

  • Melatonin levels rise – Melatonin regulates people’s waking cycles and sleeping habits. The rise causes tiredness and oversleeping. Melatonin is released at night or in dim light, which is why people notice an increase in melatonin throughout the winter months.
  • Serotonin Deficiency – Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for sensations of pleasure and well-being. It is stimulated by exposure to sunshine. Because there is less sunshine throughout the winter, the body generates less serotonin, making people more susceptible to SAD.
  • Vitamin D deficiency – Vitamin D production is connected to serotonin stimulation. Both are dependent on sunshine. Inadequate amounts of Vitamin D in the body during the winter months cause depressed symptoms, increasing the chance of SAD.

The Connection Between SAD and Addiction 

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 33% of individuals who struggle with drug addiction also suffer from depression, including SAD.

Studies have also shown that persons with addiction overuse drugs seasonally, which may be attributed to SAD. According to the findings of a 2004 study, persons with alcohol addiction abuse alcohol seasonally.

Those suffering from SAD, like many others, try to self-medicate with substances, unaware that this might intensify symptoms and, in some circumstances, lead to addiction.

Some of the impacts of drugs on people with SAD are as follows:

  • Alcohol – Many people with SAD turn to alcohol to satisfy their food cravings. While this may alleviate depressed symptoms, people may suffer acute melancholy and lethargy as the alcohol departs their bodies.
  • Marijuana – Marijuana users may suffer the same symptoms. When the high wears off, the despair worsens. This causes SAD symptoms to worsen.
  • Stimulants – Those who utilize stimulants to alleviate the lethargy and weariness caused by SAD may develop severe depression. Stimulants, like other drugs, can exacerbate symptoms of depression.

Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder 

A combination of counseling and doctor-prescribed medicine may be the best solution for severe instances of SAD and addiction. Light therapy is also frequently used to treat SAD in patients with co-occurring drug addiction problems. The purpose of light therapy is to compensate for the lack of sunshine during the winter months.

Individualized treatment strategies from recovery and rehab institutions may also aid in preventing SAD and addiction.

Key Takeaway 

Addiction may strike anybody, regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, or gender. However, seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is an under-reported mental ailment. SAD and addiction frequently co-occur, making people who struggle with substance misuse more vulnerable.

Depressive illnesses, mainly seasonal affective disorder, are severe and require expert treatment. When someone suffering from untreated depression concurrently utilizes drugs and alcohol to feel better, the results can be disastrous.Anyone might be affected by the “winter blues.” This time of year may be adamant for some, with feelings of solitude and deep melancholy pervading. Recognizing this, all of us must reach out to friends and family members who may require more care regularly. If you’re suffering from SAD, keep in touch with someone you trust.

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