Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction

Seasonal depression, also called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a form of depression. Individuals may turn to drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Tips to Beat the Winter Blues

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Studies have shown a connection between mental illness and addiction. Many people struggling with seasonal affective disorder, also known as the winter blues, use drugs or alcohol to cope with their illnesses. If you are concerned that you are suffering from a seasonal affective disorder and are relying on drugs or alcohol to treat your feelings, don’t hesitate to contact our admissions team today.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is a form of major depression that usually arises during the fall or winter months when there’s less daylight, colder temperatures, and less social interaction. The underlying cause of seasonal affective disorder is unknown; however, we know that it can impact a person’s mental health and cause them to feel isolated and depressed. Some individuals may turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with these feelings. People with SAD may also try and quit cold turkey, causing symptoms of alcohol withdrawal that can be life threatening. Addiction treatment programs in New Jersey can help if you or a friend has developed a substance use disorder due to the type of depression seasonal affective disorder can cause.

Some available treatments are:

  • Alcohol Detox
  • Drug Detox
  • Individual or Group Therapy
  • Inpatient Treatment

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder at Avatar

Some factors that might increase the likelihood of suffering from seasonal affective mood disorder could be the reduced levels of sunlight affecting a person’s circadian rhythm, a drop in serotonin levels, and an imbalance of the body’s melatonin levels, which affects an individual’s sleep pattern and overall mood.

If you or a friend is struggling with seasonal affective disorder, a substance use problem, or both, don’t hesitate. Reach out to our clinical team today to learn more about our options to assist you.

Identifying the Signs and Symptoms of SAD

There are many signs that you or someone you care about is struggling with seasonal affective disorder. These symptoms include, but are not limited to:

  • Irritability and agitation, mood swings
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Changes in sleeping patterns (Hypersomnia or insomnia)
  • Reduced energy levels, fatigue, and lethargy
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Winter Depression
  • Delirium Tremens
  • Lack of concentration and focus
  • Loss of interest in the things that once gave them joy, like hobbies and pastimes

Suppose you recognize any of the above signs and symptoms in your life or the life of someone you know. In that case, it is worth inquiring about professional help at an addiction treatment facility in New Jersey.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction

Unfortunately, people affected by seasonal darkness and lack of activity often attempt to self-medicate depressive moods by drinking excessive alcohol or abusing drugs to overcome their melancholy. Alcohol use disorder, in particular, seems to be linked to seasonal patterns.

Self-medicating with alcohol is particularly dangerous because ethanol is a depressant, which can exacerbate seasonal affective disorder symptoms and other forms of depression. When the feelings of sadness or fatigue intensify, the alcohol intake increases even further, and the risk of developing an addiction is elevated. The relapse risk rises for people in recovery who are responsive to a lack of daylight and susceptible to emotional stress during the holiday season. It’s critical to be aware of the impact that seasonal changes can have and counteract mood swings without using drugs and alcohol.

Other Ways to Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD):


30 minutes three to five times a week benefits you physically and mentally.

Get Outside:

Even if it’s only for ten minutes, breathing fresh air and being surrounded by nature have many benefits.

Eat well:

Eating a nutritious meal will give you the energy you need to have a productive day. Unhealthy foods may satisfy you momentarily but will leave your energy crashing mid-day.

Phone A Friend:

Call an old friend and catch up or meet someone for a coffee or tea or a brisk walk in the park. Communicating with others will reduce isolation and can be a big mood booster.

Progress, Not Perfection:

Small steps each day. If you don’t make it outside every day, it’s no big deal; if you only exercise two days instead of three, don’t beat yourself up over it. Listen to your body; if you need a day to rest and do nothing, that’s what you should do.

Ask for Help:

If you have tried to combat seasonal affective disorder and substance abuse and are still experiencing difficulties, it’s best to seek help from a professional. Contact Avatar Residential Detox Center today to learn more about how we can provide you with the help you need to discover the path toward recovery.

Learn More at Avatar Detox Center Today

Located in New Jersey, Avatar Residential Detox Center is a dual-diagnosis treatment center equipped to provide evidence-based treatment for depression and substance use disorders. We use a patient-centered approach to aid in healing the mind, body, and spirit. Our integrative approach helps clients lead healthier life in recovery.

At Avatar, we provide the following:

  • Detox Program.
  • Individual and group counseling.
  • Addiction education.
  • Specialty therapy options.
  • Aftercare planning.

Dual Diagnosis & Addiction Treatment at Avatar

Reach out to our admissions team at (973)-774-7222 to begin your journey toward recovery.

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