Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction | The link that research has found

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Drug and Alcohol AddictionHave you ever experienced the blues during the winter? At times the short, colder days can have a significant impact on our moods and daily lives. This type of depression is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. Research has also found a link between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction.

It is important to recognize Seasonal Affective Disorder as playing a role in a recovering addict’s life, and how they are affected emotionally and psychologically.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal Affective Disorder can be defined as “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons” according to the Mayo Clinic. It is estimated that Seasonal Affective Disorder affects about 10 million Americans.  This type of depression comes and goes with the seasons, and appears to be more intense during the later fall and winter months.

The exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is unknown, however, there are some risk factors. Some of the attributes of Seasonal Affective Disorder include age, bipolar disorder, having depression, gender, where you are located globally, and family history.

There are additionally some contributing factors to one feeling “seasonally down.”  Melatonin and serotonin fluctuations play a significant role. Increased melatonin levels can leave one feeling sleepy and more lethargic. Low serotonin contributes to a dysregulation in the mood.

A person’s biological clock can also be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Drug and Alcohol AddictionSome of the symptoms that appear with seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Fatigue
  • Low energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Decrease in physical activity
  • Oversleeping
  • Weight gain or loss
  • Feelings of sadness and depression
  • Hopelessness

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction

Research suggests a link between Seasonal Affective Disorder and addiction. This is not to say that Seasonal Affective Disorder causes addiction, or that addiction causes Seasonal Affective Disorder. However, there is an interplay between the two.

Often times co-occurring disorders such as depression or bipolar disorder, are prevalent with a substance abuse disorder. Co-occurring disorders refer to mental health conditions that coexist with substance use disorder. Often it is by self-medicating that further exasperates feelings of depression and sadness.

Research Studies

One study looked at an individual who was a cocaine user and experienced the cyclical fluctuations in cravings and mood. They also found the patients’ circadian rhythm as well as their melatonin levels were off and may have heavily influenced the seasonal patterns experienced.

Another study found that alcoholism and Seasonal Affective Disorder have been found to have a link. There are also additional contributing factors such as environment and genetics that can play a part as well. Research has found in some individuals drinking patterns that indicated heavier drinking during the colder seasons.

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder

Ultimately, it is important to recognize that seasonal affective disorder can affect those in recovery. It is important to gain a more informed idea about ways in which you can be of support.

Here at BTG, we are aware that co-occurring disorders are often present with substance abuse disorder. We work to address underlying issues such as depression, anxiety,  trauma with the modalities that we offer.

Our Modalities

  • Neurofeedback is a tool that we use that has been found helpful in addressing depression through self-regulation of the brain.
  • Nutrition and exercise is another area that we use to optimize the physical and emotional state of the body. Research has shown that proper exercise and nutrition improves overall mood.
  • In bringing the addicted brain back into balance we use IV Amino Acids. Amino Acid therapy helps to restore the functioning of neurotransmitters.
  • Brainspotting focuses on attuning one’s self to the “deep brain” and has been helpful in treating “emotional-based conditions”.
  • Accudetox or acupuncture is helpful in improving mood, decreasing post-acute withdrawal, and providing an overall calming effect.
  • Getting outside! We like to utilize the outdoors as much as possible when the weather is good. We organize retreats for the clients in which they are able to enjoy the serenity that nature brings while working on internal healing.
  • Psychotherapy is an effective approach we at Bridging the Gaps have found in addressing co-occurring disorders. We also work alongside other health and mental care providers to be able to fully support our clients and their recovery.

There is Help

Seasonal Affective Disorder and addictionWe value individualized care and quality services that help address the full person. Seasonal depression and addiction can be depleting, but with our multi-dimensional approach, we work to restore lives emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

For more information about seasonal affective disorder click here.

If you or are a loved one are struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, contact us now! We are here to answer your questions and provide you with the support you need. 24 hours a day 7 days a week.  

Call (540) 535-1111 or email us at

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