Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD as it’s commonly referred to, is basically winter time depression. While it affects all types of people all over the world in the winter months, it’s extremely dangerous for those in early recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. If you’re a frequent sufferer of winter time depression, there are a few things you should be prepared for to reduce the chance of relapse.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and what are the Statistics?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons. Usually, those affected experience depression anywhere from late fall to early summer. It’s no different than major depression, individuals just experience symptoms as seasons change. To be diagnosed, individuals must experience symptoms of depression throughout winter months for 2 consecutive years or more. Women and those living in states with longer winter periods are at a higher risk for this type of depression. Additional risk factors may include congruent mood disorders, lack of vitamin D, and family history. Over all, “Six percent of the US population, primarily in northern climates, is affected by SAD in its most marked form. Another 14 percent of the adult US population suffers from a lesser form of seasonal mood changes, known as winter blues”.
Dealing with Winter Time Depression
As an individual in recovery, depression can be a major trigger which can result in the process of relapse. This is why it’s so important, if you are affected by winter time depression, to be prepared for the winter months. While relapse is a part of recovery for many, it’s the biggest cause for overdose fatalities, meaning it’s very important to try to prevent relapse. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to prepare for the winter. And, there are a few things you can do if you do experience winter time depression to ensure you stay sober.
What You Can Do About Winter Time Depression as a Person in Recovery
Get the Help You Need: If you know that you’re affected with seasonal depression, set yourself up to get the help you need during the winter months. Therapy sessions can help you to understand more about your mood disorder so that it can be better managed. Additionally, friends and family can help to be that support you need when the going gets tough. Sometimes, it’s all you need to talk to someone about what you’re feeling so that you can move on.
Invest in Your Social Life: If you know that the winter months are a trigger for your depression, set yourself up for social events BEFORE they come around. If you wait until the winter to plan social activities, you may already be affected and not wish to make them any longer. But, if you commit to activities and plans beforehand, you’ll feel more pressure to keep social commitments. Remember that socializing is good for maintaining your sober connections and also to help bring you out of the house so that your winter depression doesn’t hurt your sobriety!
Ask for Help from Peers: It’s super helpful to establish sober connections throughout recovery. One of the many benefits to establishing a network of sober support is accountability. Although it may seem embarrassing to ask others for support during winter months for increased depression, your recovery peers are the ones who probably understand most. Almost half of the individuals who struggle with addiction have concurrent mood disorders, like seasonal depression. So, choose a recovery peer who you think will keep you accountable for getting the help you need and investing and your social life so serious consequences of winter time depression like relapse don’t occur.
Getting Help with Treatment for Winter Time Depression
If you’re struggling with addiction and depression, whether during winter months or otherwise, it’s possible to get sober and remain that way. Recovery is possible with the help you need. Here at Asheville Recovery Center, we give individuals the tools they need to uncover the causes of both addiction and mood disorders like depression. And, we provide methods to maintaining healthy lifestyles so that both addiction and depression can be managed and a life of wellbeing may be established. Give us a call to speak with an experienced addiction specialist today at 866-315-8998.