Recognizing and Addressing ADHD and Seasonal Affective Disorder

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During the winter months, ADHD and seasonal affective disorder can become an issue for some people. In general, people with ADHD sometimes struggle with both processing and expressing their emotions. Sometimes, this can lead to additional issues such as fear, stress, and depression. As a result of these issues, people with ADHD might have problems with their feelings during the changing seasons. During the winter months in particular, this can become seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Seasonal affective disorder affects a significant number of people each year, especially in colder climates with less sunlight. For people with ADHD, who might already struggle with change to begin with, seasonal affective disorder can be especially crippling. For this reason, many people with ADHD should take special notice of depressive symptoms connected to the change in seasons.

In this post, we want to take a closer look at both the signs of ADHD and seasonal affective disorder and what you can do to address them well. While some people might experience SAD and be able to find ways to cope with it, others might find themselves crippled by its symptoms. Ultimately, you don’t have to let seasonal affective disorder take you hostage. Read on for ways to clearly identify it and to take back your life from the symptoms of the condition.

Signs You Might be affected by ADHD and Seasonal Affective Disorder

For most people, the change of seasons takes some getting used to. Few people really want to give up long summer days for their short cold winter counterparts. With this in mind, how do you know when you might just be adjusting to the change in seasons or really have seasonal affective disorder. We need to understand the difference as one might pass relatively quickly, while the other can lead to further depression. Let’s consider now some signs that might point to an issue with ADHD and seasonal affective disorder.

Pay Attention to the Timing

Those affected by ADHD and seasonal affective disorder need to pay close attention to the seasons and when they begin to feel depressed. As indicated by its name, true seasonal affected disorder starts to show itself around the onset of late fall or early winter. If you notice a marked difference in your personality between the last days of summer and the beginning of winter you might consider SAD as a factor.

Again, although the timing alone doesn’t mean everything, it does matter. Additionally, while most cases of SAD occur in the colder darker months, it can also arise during the summer. In some instances, some people experience seasonal affective disorder when the calendar goes from winter to spring and summer. If you notice a change in your temperament during this period, you also might have SAD.

Continual Depression

ADHD and seasonal affective disorder is marked by continual feelings of sadness and depression. Typically, this depression occurs frequently throughout the day and for several days consistently. People experiencing SAD typically struggle to shake the feelings of depression no matter the setting or what they do.

Even typically upbeat and enthusiastic personalities might become negative and downcast. If you notice your personality shifts dramatically into a moody depression that you just can’t shake with the colder weather, you might look to seasonal affective disorder as a cause.

Changes in Appetite and Sleep Patterns

The reason ADHD and seasonal affective disorder can cause such problems is because it typically disrupts your regular routine. For people with ADHD, a daily routine provides a pivotal part of symptom management. Anything that can throw off your routine and structure for a significant period should be taken seriously. With SAD, the disruption can come in the form of appetite and sleeping.

Many people suffering from seasonal affective disorder might notice a significant change in appetite. This change could go either way. Some people will start to crave more carbohydrate heavy foods and start to gain weight. Others might lose their appetite altogether and subsequently lose weight as well.

Additionally, many times people with SAD notice significant changes in their sleep patterns. Some might want to sleep more, sleeping away most of their day. Others, on the other hand, might have great difficulty sleeping and start having insomnia. These issues with trouble sleeping can even lead to other issues such as lose of concentration. If you notice a significant shift in your sleeping and eating habits during the winter months, you might look to SAD as an underlying cause.

How you can Address ADHD and Seasonal Affective Disorder

Now that we have some understanding of the symptoms of ADHD and seasonal affective disorder, we next should talk about how to address it. If you believe you may have SAD, what can you do, and what should you do? Let’s look closer at the best ways to address SAD.

Light Therapy

One of the root causes of seasonal affective disorder has to do with the change in the amount of natural daylight you receive. In the winter months, the days are shorter and the amount of natural light is less. This in turn impacts our internal circadian rhythm and natural internal clock. This then affects how we feel and how we sleep and the natural rhythms of our day.

One way to fight against the decrease in natural light is through the use of what is called light therapy. This therapy typically involves a special light box that you can use in your home to provide light similar to natural light. This approach seeks to increase the amount of light exposure during the darker winter months.

While not many studies have been done on light therapy, it nonetheless does seem to provide some relief to people suffering with SAD. Typically, those who use light boxes for a few hours a day start to see improvements in their moods within a short period of time. If you think light therapy might provide relief for you, talk to your doctor before purchasing a light box. Your doctor can provide additional advice on appropriate use and how you can make it most affective in your efforts.

Get Support and Accountability

Depression has a way of making a person feel alone and isolated. As a result, someone who feels down might try to do anything they can to withdraw and avoid other people. To fight back against ADHD and seasonal affective disorder, though, you need to fight to do the opposite and get around as many people as possible.

What we mean isn’t that you should go around people you don’t know. Rather, you need to surround yourself with a support network and accountability team. You need to let those in your life know about your struggle with seasonal affective disorder. When you feel depressed then, have these people check in on you and encourage you to spend time with others as opposed to isolating yourself. While spending time with others might feel difficult when you feel depressed, it can over time have an impact on helping to improve your symptoms.

Get Out and Get Active

ADHD and seasonal affective disorder impact you mostly by making it so that you don’t want to go out or do anything. To fight against this, you need to do the opposite of what you feel. You need to make extra effort to get out of the house and to get active.

In particular, this can be one way that your support network can help. Since you won’t feel like going out on your own, your support partners can encourage you by going with you. Just making an effort to go out for 30 minutes to an hour each day can help to limit the feelings of depression. Even small amounts of natural light can help to improve your mood. Additionally, going out and walking around can help boost dopamine and chemicals that will limit your feelings of depression. If you can spend more time exercising each day, this can possibly have a significant impact as well.

Learning to Manage ADHD and Seasonal Affective Disorder Well

People with ADHD can fall prey to seasonal affective disorder easier than most. Many people with ADHD struggle with understanding emotions. They also might have issues with change. Additionally, they usually have a great dependence on maintaining routine. Combined together, all of these factors can contribute to make seasonal affective disorder worse. At the same time, though, if you know the symptoms to look for and have tools to address them, you shouldn’t be afraid of SAD taking over your life.

If you believe that you might face SAD on a yearly basis, get help and support from people around you. Prepare for the coming change of seasons by making sure those around you know what to look for and know how to help. Preparing in advance can help you deal with the symptoms much faster than otherwise. Using knowledge of the symptoms and ways to address them can help you learn to manage ADHD and seasonal affective disorder well. We hope this article has helped provide you a good place to start on that journey.