San Mateo Senior Home Care Blog

Seasonal Affective Disorder - What is It?

By Peggy Milne

Seasonal Affective Disorder

If you get the winter blues each year, it might be more than just an emotional slump that comes on when it gets cold. Millions of seniors are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder every year, causing depression and sadness that is tough to shake. This can especially be true for those who live in a northern climate that sees a lot of snow and frigid temps each winter.

During the winter, daylight comes later and doesn’t last as long. Sometimes the sun doesn’t really shine for days on end and dealing with the overcast skies and cold weather can really mess with those who suffer from the symptoms of depression. Here are the things you should watch for if you’re concerned a senior loved one may be dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Mood changes that last for weeks on end are the most obvious sign of SAD. It’s time to seek help if a caregiver observes sadness that doesn’t end, or a lack of motivation to participate in daily activities. Here are some other signs and symptoms:

 Agitation, irritability or feelings of anxiety
 Fatigue that is not easily shaken
 Sleep patterns that change—too much or too little sleep
 Weight gain or weight loss that is unintentional
 Sudden cravings for carbohydrates or other appetite changes

Getting Treatment for Seasonal Blues and Cabin Fever

We all experience some cabin fever from time to time, especially during the winter months. Here are some things you can do to help counteract it:

• Get Outdoors. Not having an exposure to the sunlight can really take a toll on your mood. If it’s cold outside, bundle up and take a short walk. Sleep patterns can really be improved by getting some time outside. 

• Be Active
. The best solution for beating the blues any time of year is to get active. Try some easy exercises such as swimming, walking or yoga.

• Eat Healthy.
 Vitamin deficiencies are often linked to depression, so make sure you are eating a healthy diet that is balanced. 

• Lighten Your Environment.
 Depression sets in when there is too much darkness. Open some blinds, pull back the curtains and let the sun shine in! You’ll be amazed what this will do for those wintertime blues!

• Light Therapy.
 If getting outdoors is hard for you or your senior loved one, consider doing what people in the far north do—use a lightbox to get some light therapy. Non-damaging UV rays will emit from these devices that will help bring balance to the brain chemicals during the winter. Be sure to speak to a physician before beginning light therapy. There are many lightboxes to choose from and all of them have unique benefits.

For more information on helping seniors who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, please contact us today!

Home Helpers of San Mateo County is a locally-owned, trusted home health care agency and offers quality, compassionate senior in-home care services including home care assistance, personal care, companion care, respite care, 24-hour live-in care, Alzheimer's & dementia care, Parkinson's care as well as homemaker services in BurlingameSan MateoHalf Moon BayDaly CitySan CarlosRedwood CityBelmontFoster CityHillsboroughPacificaMillbraeMontara, and San Bruno, California.

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