How Seasonal Changes Affect Depression
Some people are impacted by seasonal changes more than others. A change in seasons may cause a new wave of depression in some people for a number of reasons. Understanding what triggers depression can help you successfully treat depression to enjoy life throughout every season.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) has been tied to the depression that many people feel during the winter months. Many doctors agree that this depression may be linked to chemical changes in the brain due to shortened days and less sunlight.
SAD may be tied to “circadian rhythm,” the part of the brain that tells individuals when to wake up and when to go to sleep. Because the winter includes darker days and longer nights, the brain may tell individuals to remain low-energy, which can lead to feelings of depression.
Trauma and Depression
Seasonal depression is not always caused by the cold winter months. Sometimes seasonal depression can be tied to a traumatic memory or experience. The death of a loved one during the summer, for instance, can trigger memories of loss around that time of year. Many people who were impacted by the 9/11 tragedy experience some added stress as September rolls around again.
The mind and body can hold on to traumatic experiences for a long time, causing individuals to experience sadness or anxiety around the same time of year as the incident.
Sometimes depression is caused by constant anxiety or strain. This anxiety can lead to exhaustion and self-medicating behavior. There are a number of ways to self-medicate depression. While many are healthy, such as exercise and eating right, others are unhealthy, such as using drugs, overeating and abusing alcohol. It is important to be aware of self-medicating behavior and know when to seek outside help.
Self-medicating with drugs or alcohol can be a slippery slope. Sometimes people experiment with stimulants or depressants in order to wake up more or relax in the evening during shorter days. This can cause users to build up a tolerance to these substances and require more and more over time in order to get the same effects.
Even if you have sought treatment for depression before, you may be surprised how many new treatments and medicines (with less side effects) are now available. We offer a toll-free helpline to help individuals and families find solutions to depression and substance abuse issues. We work with a wide network of rehab providers, clinicians and counselors to help people find quality treatment and support. Let us help you and your family today.