When Seasonal Affective Disorder Meets Sobriety

2017-01-28T00:13:37+00:00 December 19th, 2016|

A change of season typically brings in different holidays and weather changes, which can have a direct effect on one’s mood. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that develops in regards to a change in seasons that can affect energy levels and overall well-being. The wintertime can be a challenging experience for those on the road to recovery. SAD may become an endeavor to overcome and can create complications for sobriety. Explore this blog to learn how to manage any SAD symptoms or challenges that the wintertime may bring to remain on the right path.

Addiction and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder during the winter season can be detrimental for those wanting to lead a life to sobriety, especially for women. While SAD affects one’s mood and depression, others may also experience symptoms of insomnia and suicidal thoughts. The winter season also involves renowned holidays such as Christmas and New Year’s, which can also cause depression and anxiety for individuals as well.  As a result, dealing with such side effects could cause one to fall back into substance abuse. Therefore, it is important to stay prepared for seasonal temptations and understand what is happening to you or your loved ones mental health.

Seasonal Affective Disorder: fall and winter

During the fall and winter seasons, the weather has an impact on overall mental health. These seasons have darker months and longer days without sunlight, which can dampen moods and create a melancholy aura. When snow and rain showers start to fall, this can eventually lead to boredom as outside entertainment and/or physical activity is reduced or even limited. This can occur especially for recovering addicts who are spending the holidays alone. This can be hazardous because boredom or the feeling to want to boost one’s energy can have an influence to use substances for a temporary distraction or the need for a quick uplift in mood.

Another seasonal related problem is added stress and temptations during the holidays and family reunions. Stress can easily form with major holidays that involve parties, gatherings, and substance use by friends and family for recovering addicts. Family gatherings can be a stressful period for those have dysfunctional relationships with family members. It can be difficult to maintain sobriety because unresolved tensions or bad family history can be triggers for cravings and negative emotions.

According to a report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, December is as dangerous as June and July as this is the time when 12-17-year-olds experience alcohol for the first time. This can cause a former addict to remember previous holiday substance use and can tempt one to participate, especially in work and family party environments.

How to Prepare for Season Temptations and SAD

Below are a number of ways to avoid temptations while coping with SAD. If you or anyone you know is a recovering addict and is experiencing any SAD symptoms, it is important to seek professional help.

  • Although the winter brings chilly weather, spending time outdoors should be part of your daily routine. This will allow for exposure to natural sunlight (even with clouds present). We suggest spending time outdoors in either the morning or right after waking up.
  • Exercise regularly. Colder season can prohibit going to the gym due to snow conditions or the feeling of wanting to feel comfortable indoors. Exercise is beneficial for depression and outdoor exercise is even better for overall health.
  • Refrain from getting cozy in dark areas. This could worsen symptoms of SAD. Try brightening up a home by first using any and all available natural light, then supplement with artificial lights as needed. Meditation is a great stress-reliever and helps one with SAD. Yoga, Pilates, and other relaxing methods are great for the body and mental strength.
  • Create a schedule or plan fun sober events to distract the mind from boredom and cravings.
  • Steer away from anything that could be harmful to recovery. If you have to second guess it, try avoiding it all together. Resisting temptations is easier said than done.

About Residence XII

RESIDENCE XII offers ALCOHOL TREATMENT and DRUG REHAB FOR WOMEN that empower women while leading them on their journey to recovery. At Residence XII, we welcome all women (+18) and aim to provide the highest quality INPATIENT and OUTPATIENT treatment for addiction available. Residence XII also offers a FAMILY PROGRAM aimed at helping family members and loved ones understand how to best help the patient in recovery. CONTACT US for a free DRUG AND ALCOHOL ASSESSMENT or to learn more about how we treat women with drug or alcohol dependency. Residence XII is state licensed by CARF (commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) and a member of the NAATP (National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers).