As the days get shorter in the fall and winter, some people experience what is known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression that can cause depressed mood and low energy level. More than just the “winter blues,” SAD is a serious condition that should be identified and addressed. Consequently, at our skilled nursing community in Fort Collins, we reassure residents that there are steps that can be taken to treat SAD.
While doctors and researchers don’t fully understand SAD, the condition is clearly caused by decreased exposure to sunlight and seems to affect hormone levels and our internal clock to a degree. And, in addition to mood and energy level issues, SAD can also be responsible for:
- Decreased ability to focus or concentrate
- Loss of interest in socializing
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Increased sleepiness or trouble sleeping
- Cravings for starches, carbs, and sweets
- Reduced sex drive
- Unexplained weight gain
- Angriness or irritability
It’s important to note that other conditions can cause many of these symptoms. So, it’s critical to talk with your doctor who can help you identify exactly what is causing them.
Treatments for SAD
Doctors commonly prescribe two treatments for SAD. First of all, bright light therapy uses special fixtures that produce high intensity light. They can help decrease melatonin production, leaving you feeling less sleepy and depressed. In addition, a treatment called cognitive behavioral therapy can be used. Also referred to as “talk therapy,” it teaches you to reduce negative thoughts and mindsets so you can deal more effectively with the decrease in sunlight.
Other things you can do at your skilled nursing community to help minimize SAD include:
- Increase interior light and maximize exposure to natural light by spending time near windows during the day
- Get or stay physically active, which increases the release of “feel good” endorphins.
- Make the effort to participate in hobbies and activities, even if the condition initially makes them feel less enjoyable.
- Get outside daily for a walk or just some time sitting on the porch. Even on overcast days this exposure to natural light can be helpful.
- Keep your stress under control by finding time each day for meditation, yoga, or prayer.
- Eat healthy meals and enjoy treats and dessert in moderation.
- Practice proper “sleep hygiene” like ensuring that your bed is comfortable, and that your room is cool (but not too cold), dark, and quiet during the night.
Don’t Let SAD Linger
As a leading provider of skilled nursing in Fort Collins, Colorado, we want all our residents at Green House Homes at Mirasol to stay happy and healthy through the winter and year ‘round. Therefore, we encourage them to take action promptly if they begin to feel the effects of seasonal affective disorder. Because the condition can be successfully treated, there is no need to suffer until springtime.
November/10/2017 | News