Preventing Fall and Winter Depression in Seniors

Preventing Fall and Winter Depression in Seniors

The end of the summer brings with it what is known as the winter blues. For most people, this is a usual reaction to the shortening of the days and drop in temperature. However, for some people, this change in the season can spark seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Symptoms of SAD are basically the same as the usual symptoms of depression, which includes a feeling of hopelessness, sluggishness, irritability, and a loss of interest in hobbies and usual interests. Physical symptoms include weight gain, loss of appetite and excessive tiredness. For seniors, the risk of developing SAD is higher as the change in the season can be much more limiting to their mobility outside the home and as a result of the physical effects of the cold. Here at Northeast Adult Day Care, we’ve got some tips to help you keep yourself well away from SAD and to ensure you stay mentally healthy this coming winter!

Keep active

The change in the season makes everyone feel sluggish, but getting some exercise – no matter how intense – is a great way to stave off winter depression. Exercising increases the flow of oxygen to your brain making you feel more alert and therefore willing to engage with people and daily activities. Crucially, it also stimulates the production of serotonin in your brain, promoting feelings of wellness and positivity, and is a major factor in battling depression. Even a light walk on a daily basis can really help keep away dreadful the symptoms of SAD!

Make the most of the light

Another large contributor to depression is the lack of light that fall and winter bring. Exposure to sunlight induces the regulation of melatonin, a vital hormone in the regulation of your sleeping pattern. Getting out and about during the sunlight hours is a really good way to ensure your sleep is truly restorative, meaning you can avoid spiraling into depression. If you struggle to get out or find that where you live has short daylight hours, you may want to try light therapy. This type of therapy uses specially designed lights to mimic the sunrise every morning promoting a well-regulated sleeping pattern that will bring a multitude of benefits!

Get out and socialize

The urge to become a recluse in the colder months is something that everybody experiences, but resisting this is a great way to avoid SAD. Loneliness is a slippery slope and one of the most severe symptoms of depression. Even if you don't socialize by actually meeting people in a physical sense, just picking up the phone for an old-fashioned chat can do wonders for your mood and can instantly dispel feelings of loneliness!

Slipping into a state of depression in the winter is a real risk for many seniors around the country, but by following the simple tips above, you can hopefully stop yourself spiraling into this all-consuming illness. Northeast Adult Day Care knows all too well the devastating effects that depression can have on people, which is why our adult day care programs are specifically designed to stop seniors slipping into this devastating state. At our adult day care center, you can socialize, take day trips to enjoy the great outdoors, and enjoy a range of physical activities that will keep away both the winter blues and more severe symptoms of depression, ensuring you stay mentally healthy throughout the long winter months!