Every year, millions of people in the United States develop a feeling of sadness when the seasons change. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a mental health condition that is sometimes an underlying cause of addiction. While not all of those who struggle with SAD will also face substance abuse issues, if you are prone to depression, it can be helpful to know how to spot the signs of addiction.
What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression triggered by the changing seasons. It is a subtype of major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. People tend to associate SAD with winter months, but some develop it during spring and summer, instead.
The exact cause of SAD isn’t clear, but professionals believe that some of the following might contribute to this condition:
- The reduced or increased sunlight disrupts the body’s internal clock
- The brain may experience a drop in serotonin levels due to the change in sunlight
- The change in season may impact the body’s natural melatonin levels, affecting sleep patterns
Because SAD only happens at the change of the season, not everyone realizes there is a problem. They may just assume they are going through a period of sadness.
The Link Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction
Not everyone who experiences seasonal affective disorder develops an addiction, but there does appear to be a link. In fact, many mental health conditions have that same link. Taking drugs or drinking alcohol can be a type of self-medication to deal with conditions like SAD. The drug helps to control the symptoms of the illness, in this case, overwhelming sadness or hopelessness, so you feel better. At the same time, though, your body develops a dependency on the drug.
For some, the connection is just being forced to stay indoors. During the summer, people go out. They exercise more, and they have fun. Winter drives you indoors, and drinking or using a drug might help to fill some of the sadness from not being able to do things you like.
Getting Treatment for SAD
Anyone experiencing seasonal affective disorder needs to talk to their doctor. Treatment can’t start with a proper diagnosis. For those that use drugs or drink alcohol to help manage their sadness, the answer might be a professional treatment program.
Drug treatment programs at San Antonio Recovery Center (SARC) offer dual diagnosis services that treat both seasonal affective disorder and substance use disorder. It is very common to have an addiction with an underlying mental health issue. Treating both conditions at the same time is important. If you only treat the addiction, then the next time the season changes, you may relapse. That is why drug and rehab facilities offer mental health treatment.
Contact San Antonio Recovery Center Today
When researching the various programs in your area, look for the words dual diagnosis treatment. This ensures the facility you choose will be able to handle your seasonal affective disorder as well as the substance use disorder. Along with individual and group therapy, they may offer programs that help you build coping skills that better control the depression, such as yoga therapy or meditation.
San Antonio Recovery Center has two treatment locations in the San Antonio region. They focus on programs based on the 12-step philosophy and take a holistic approach to treatment, including yoga and medication options.
San Antonio Recovery Center’s services include:
- Residential treatment
- Intensive outpatient therapy
- Aftercare services
- Animal therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Medication therapy
The experienced staff at SARC is dedicated to providing strategies designed to correct addictive behaviors. The clinical team can make a diagnosis of your condition and then develop a strategy to treat it. They work with each client to create an individualized care program that suits your needs.