Dangerous Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction

man leaning against window thinking about seasonal affective disorder

Dangerous Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction

By Michael Rass
Published: November 10, 2020

The strong connection between substance use and mental illness has long been recognized. Addiction specialists and mental health experts have known for decades that individuals struggling with mental wellness are significantly more likely to turn to drugs and alcohol as a way of easing the pain of their illness. If you are concerned that seasonal affective disorder is causing you to rely on psychoactive substances, please contact Lakeview Recovery by calling 866.704.7692.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that strikes patients during specific seasons—mostly during the winter months when temperatures are colder, daylight hours are fewer, and weather conditions force patients to stay indoors. The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown, but addiction therapy services are often required to help people cope with substance use disorder during the winter months. These include:

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder at Lakeview

Still, factors that may come into play include reduced levels of sunlight affecting a person’s circadian rhythm, a drop in serotonin (a neurotransmitter that affects mood), and an imbalance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood.

If you or someone close to you is struggling with seasonal affective disorder, a substance use problem, or both, don’t hesitate. Reach out to our clinical team online today or call us at 866.704.7692 to learn more about what we can do for you.

Signs and Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

There are many signs that you or someone you care about is struggling with seasonal affective disorder. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Hypersomnia or insomnia, changes in sleeping patterns
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Irritability and agitation, mood swings
  • Lack of interest in the things that once gave them joy, like hobbies and pastimes
  • Isolation from friends and family

This list is not, of course, exhaustive. But if you recognize any of the above in yourself or someone you know, it is worth enquiring about professional help at a treatment facility like Lakeview Health.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction

Unfortunately, people affected by seasonal darkness and lack of activity often attempt to self-medicate depressive moods by drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs to overcome their melancholy. Alcohol use disorder, in particular, seems to be linked to seasonal patterns.

Self-medicating with alcohol is particularly dangerous because ethanol is a depressant, which can exacerbate seasonal affective disorder symptoms and other forms of depression. When the feelings of sadness or fatigue intensify, the alcohol intake increases even further, and the risk of developing an addiction is elevated. The relapse risk rises for people in recovery who are responsive to a lack of daylight and susceptible to emotional stress during the holiday season. It is important to be mindful of the impact that seasonal changes can have and counteract mood swings without using drugs and alcohol.

Learn More at Lakeview Health Today

In Jacksonville, Lakeview Health is a dual-diagnosis treatment center providing comprehensive treatment for both depression and substance use disorders. All treatment methods at Lakeview are designed to support the entire patient—mind, body, and spirit. Therapy, group process, and psychodynamic education help heal the mind. Medical supervision, combined with fitness and wellness therapy, helps heal the body. Mindfulness and spirituality activities help heal the spirit. This integrative approach helps patients lead a completely healthy life.

Mental Health & Addiction Treatment at Lakeview

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to Lakeview Recovery today using our convenient, secure online form or call us at 866.704.7692 to learn more about our innovative addiction treatment options.