Aging adult female coping with the symptoms of seasonal depression.

Seasonal Depression in Seniors: Understanding SAD

Seasonal Depression in Seniors: Understanding SAD

Everyone knows when the weather begins to change there are certain risks for seniors. Falls, hypothermia and the flu are typically at the top of the list of concerns. But what you might not know, is that there are other less obvious risks and health hazards that older adults should look out for this time of year.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a vitamin D deficiency that is characterized by feelings of sadness and depression during the colder months. While it’s common to feel a little down after the excitement of the holiday season, if the sadness persists for more than a couple weeks, it could be a red flag.

How to Recognize Seasonal Depression in Seniors

While SAD can occur at any time of year, it is most common during the winter months. The weather gets colder, the days get shorter and sometimes social interaction can start to decline. All of these things can contribute to mental health.

When it comes to recognizing seasonal depression in seniors, there are some signs that you should consider red flags:

  • Sudden loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Irritability
  • Loss of interest in socializing
  • General feelings of sadness
  • Change in personal hygiene
  • Tearful or weepy behavior
  • Feeling worthless
  • Difficulty concentrating

So, how do you know the difference between SAD and general depression? Seasonal Affective Disorder will only strike during certain times of the year. When natural circadian rhythms are interrupted by daylight savings, it can cause hormonal changes that trigger the symptoms of depression. Vitamin D deficiencies and decreased levels of serotonin have also been linked to causing seasonal depression.

Overcoming Seasonal Depression in Seniors

There are steps you can take during the winter months to prevent SAD from developing or to help treat the symptoms associated with the disorder. The first step is planning a visit to your doctor. Speaking with a healthcare professional can help you identify if your seasonal depression can be treated with anti-depressant medications or if there are non-pharmaceutical options available.

Some things to consider trying to help overcome seasonal depression includes:

  • Light therapy treatments for 30 to 45 minutes a day
  • Increasing your vitamin D intake
  • Avoiding alcohol or limiting intake
  • Eliminating sugary foods from your diet
  • Commit to 30 minutes of exercise a day
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Engage in social activities

Ultimately, meeting with your doctor and openly discussing your symptoms is the best way to find the right course of treatment for SAD. The goal is to take steps to prevent it before it starts by taking good care of yourself and maintaining a healthy physical and social lifestyle.

Find Your Joy at St. Joseph of the Pines

Visit one of the beautiful North Carolina campuses of St. Joseph of the Pines and find out more what makes our communities a great choice for your retirement. Our senior living community offers a continuum of care, diverse floor plans and a full range of services and amenities. Find joy in the things that truly make you happy. Contact us today to schedule a tour of our Belle Meade and Pine Knoll senior living communities.

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