S.A.D. and Seniors

Feeling a little out of sorts after the holiday season can be a normal thing. However, because the months tend to be darker, with less sunlight, you may also be experiencing something known as S.A.D., or seasonal affective disorder.

S.A.D. is a real form of depression that typically begins in late fall and ends roughly during the beginning of spring. The cause? Lack of sunlight, or Vitamin D. This type of depression can be debilitating to all age groups. But it may affect seniors even more, as their Vitamin D levels can already be depleted, due to age.

How Does S.A.D. Affect People?

S.A.D. affects people during the darker months of the year, when the sun is obstructed by cloud-cover, and night begins early. It can also be more rampant in people that live in rainier parts of the world, the Pacific Northwest in the United States.

The lack of sunlight, and subsequent resulting lack of Vitamin D, causes changes in a person’s circadian rhythms and also causes changes in levels of various hormones that can cause happiness, like serotonin. This change can bring about an intense feeling of sadness, depression, and an overall lethargic demeanor.

Why Are Seniors More Affected?

Seniors can be among the groups of people that are the most affected by S.A.D., typically because of a couple factors:

  • Less time outside
  • Depleted vitamin stores; due to age
  • Vitamin intake
  • Predisposed depression
  • Lack of exercise

These various factors can contribute to seniors having a bigger chance of feeling the effects of S.A.D. The disorder is also more common in women, and even more common among senior women. Another study found that the further away from the earth’s equator, the higher the chance of suffering from S.A.D.

Signs of S.A.D.

  • Lethargy
  • Tiredness
  • Sleeping too much or bouts of insomnia
  • The feeling of being worthless
  • Overly emotional (very sad, very irritable, etc.)
  • Change in hygiene

There are numerous different signs of a senior feeling the effects of S.A.D., but the ones listed above are among the most common.

Ways To Combat S.A.D.

Because S.A.D. can be attributed to a lack of Vitamin D (the sun’s vitamin), taking a Vitamin D supplement has been shown to help combat the disorder. However, some other studies show inconclusive results with this supplement.

Another good way to combat the disorder is to get outside whenever possible. Taking a short walk outside can greatly improve one’s mood and help to alleviate the effects of the disorder. Doing anything outdoors, especially in the shining sun (if possible) can help.

You can also consider bringing the power of the sun to you, with a light therapy lamp. Basically, a light therapy lamp is a lamp that uses a similar type of light as the sun, mimicking its effects. You need a lamp with at least 10,000 Lux to feel the effects, and they’re readily available and affordable, like this one HERE.

Another way to combat S.A.D. is to speak with your doctor. They may prescribe medication to combat the depression cause by S.A.D., or have other ideas that can help.

Conclusion

S.A.D. can be a debilitating and life-altering disorder. However, with some help, knowledge, and willingness, anyone with the disorder, especially seniors, can affectively fight back. Be well.

Filed in Health Services Retirement Lifestyle Retirement Living Senior Health