Can You Develop Seasonal Affective Disorder Later in Life?

As humans, we experience a rollercoaster of emotions throughout our lifetimes! Some parts of life can bring immense joy, while others can be particularly painful.

The ups and downs of life are to be expected, but if you are feeling that you are experiencing more downs and mental health issues at this time of year, it may indicate a condition called seasonal affective disorder.

Prioritizing your mental health is one of the most important things you can do. If you are struggling, reach out to your medical provider for a full evaluation and discussion. In the meantime, our AFC Urgent Care Sevierville team explains more about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, below.

What Causes SAD to Occur?

Like many other mental health conditions, SAD can develop at any point in life. However, it is more common to experience it in early adulthood or after you reach your 20s. Seasonal affective disorder shares some symptoms similar to other forms of depression, but it tends to follow a seasonal pattern throughout the year.

Our bodies need sunlight every day to help regulate our circadian rhythms. When the daylight is diminished and the sun isn’t as strong in the winter, our hormones can start to become out of balance. One hormone that is particularly sensitive to the seasons is melatonin. Melatonin is produced in our bodies in response to darkness to help us fall asleep. If there is more darkness around, our bodies can start to produce too much of this hormone, which can start to cause mental health struggles.

Signs of an Emerging Seasonal Affective Disorder Diagnosis

  • Increased sleepiness or daytime drowsiness
  • Loss of interest in activities and hobbies
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feelings of guilt

Is it Possible to Treat SAD?

Like all mental health conditions, seeking a professional opinion and diagnosis should always be your priority. What works for your specific case may not work for others, and mental health treatment should always be individualized to your specific needs.

Treating seasonal affective disorder can involve talk therapy, medication and even something called light therapy! There are light boxes on the market that can mimic natural daylight, so it can help trick your body into thinking you are standing in the sun. Exposure to daily light can help your symptoms dramatically. It is also important to remember that your symptoms should start to lessen when spring and summer come back and the sun returns.

Support Your Mental Health

  • Stand in the sun more often.
  • Discover a new hobby to keep you engaged.
  • Practice more self-care, like exercising and getting enough sleep.
  • Visit with a doctor if your symptoms start to affect your everyday life.

Is winter hard on your mental health? Come see us at AFC Urgent Care Sevierville to visit with our care team.