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Seasonal Affective Disorder: Is your Senior at Risk?

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Is your Senior at Risk?

Those who are living in Northern climates expect their winter to be dreary, cold and dark. Usually, this puts a constraint on spirits and people eagerly await the spring and summer time. But in case you experience depression during the cold months and you return to your cheerful self in spring and summer, it is likely that you have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Although it’s common not to be as energetic and enthusiastic in cold, overcast and wet weather, SAD is actual depression which can be experienced such seasons.

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

There is no exact cause for seasonal affective disorder. Some believe that it is caused by less hours of sunlight in the cold months because it is common in colder locations. Very short days, overcast and cloudy conditions with ongoing snow and rain are factors which can impact the circadian rhythm of the body.

Also such changes impact the serotonin levels of the body. Serotonin is a brain hormone responsible for a person’s moods. A person doesn’t feel depressed or sad if his serotonin level is normal. If it is in excess, a person feels a sense of euphoria. However if it’s deficient, he feels down and out. There is no particular reason for this depressed state aside from climate change.

Moreover, melatonin which is another brain hormone that also plays a role in seasonal affective disorder. This hormone is a sleep regulator. As darkness sets in, secretion of melatonin increases and the person feels sleepy. Melatonin imbalance can change sleep patterns and impacts the moods to some extent.

Reasons Seniors are At Risk

Usually, seniors are fairly intolerant to cold, less mobile and maybe suffering with some underlying conditions which can aggravate in the colder months. Such factors can decrease their time outside during the sunlight hours end increase their chances of feeling depressed. When there is preexisting depression, the condition is usually aggravated further during the winter months. Using chronic medication can also be essential in seniors who may have to be in a long-term drug regimen. This combination of factors can increase the risk of SAD in seniors.

Treating SAD

Often, medication is not important for seasonal affective disorder unless the person experiences severe depression. Counseling may also help, although this is a long-term solution. Usually, light therapy and lifestyle measures are the easiest approaches. Simple changes in the environment and daily routine can also make a significant difference in dealing with SAD. These include regular exercise even if it’s indoors, daily outdoor walks, letting in as much light as possible and having a healthy diet because vitamin deficiency can be an underlying component in depression. And One Care Companion, a leading provider of home care services in Naples South Florida, will be more than happy to be with your seniors in their journey to a happier life. Call us at 2396585266.

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