Seasonal Affective Disorder

Anela, the Community Relations Manager at Support For Home, has a lot of experience working with seniors, both in assisted living facilities and in home care. She has observed what happens with some seniors as the Autumn slides toward Winter. As a result, she wrote the post below:

Seasonal Affective Disorder

This weekend we change our clocks.  As the days get shorter and the weather gets colder we settle into winter.  Some of us bundle up and go about our everyday routine while we eagerly await the warner weather.

Others find this season difficult.  Many call them the Winter Blues; there has been more attention what is now called Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

The National Library on Medicine notes that symptoms of SAD include:

  • Hopelessness
  • Increased appetite with weight gain (weight loss is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Increased sleep (too little sleep is more common with other forms of depression)
  • Less energy and ability to concentrate
  • Loss of interest in work or other activities
  • Sluggish movements
  • Social withdrawal
  • Unhappiness and irritability

There are no tests for SAD.  However a physician can order various tests to rule out other disorders and conditions with similar symptoms.  This is what makes this particular disorder particularly unique.

But SAD may not be the only reason that our elders experience a bit of depression during the winter months.  As we care for our elderly we all need to recognize that the holiday season is more than just about the shorter days and cold weather.  The season also conjures up memories of holidays past and family traditions.  We should recognize the signs of Seasonal Affective Disorder so that proper light therapy (that can be recommended by a doctor) can be used to alleviate these symptoms.  On the other hand we also need to be patient and loving as holidays can be a time of sadness and loss for some.

Best wishes and don’t forget to turn back your clocks this weekend!

Anela Freeman, Community Relations Manager, Support For Home


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