What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Does your aging relative seem down in the winter months? If so, they may be suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD, as the name suggests, is a disorder that begins and ends at approximately the same time each year. For most people, SAD starts in the fall and goes into the winter. However, it is possible for people to have SAD during other times of the year. Understanding the disorder may help you to recognize it in your loved one, and to seek help.

Senior Care in Des Plaines IL: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Senior Care in Des Plaines IL: Seasonal Affective Disorder

Who is at Risk for SAD?

Doctors aren’t sure exactly what causes SAD. They believe it may have something to do with a person’s circadian rhythm as well as serotonin and melatonin levels. Although they don’t know the cause, doctors have identified some factors that put people at greater risk for developing SAD, such as:

  • Gender: Women are much more likely to have SAD than men are. They are diagnosed with SAD four times more often.
  • Location: People who live a greater distance from the equator are more likely to have SAD. For example, only 1 percent of the people living in Florida have SAD while 9 percent of those living in Alaska have it.
  • Family History: People who have a family member with SAD or another type of depression are more likely to be diagnosed with SAD.
  • Mental Health: Those with depression or bipolar disorder are more likely to be affected by SAD.

What are the Symptoms?

Again, the symptoms of sad come and go with the seasons, and differ depending on the season the person is affected during. Symptoms of winter SAD include:

  • Sleeping too much.
  • Gaining weight.
  • Changes in eating patterns, especially cravings for carbohydrate-rich foods.
  • Feeling tired or lacking energy.
  • Withdrawing from others, sometimes described as “hibernating.”
  • Moodiness, such as feeling grumpy or sad.
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or other activities.
  • Difficulty concentrating.


If your aging relative does suffer from SAD, having a senior care provider can help them through the tough winter months. Knowing that a senior care provider is stopping by can give them a reason to get up in the morning. A senior care provider can also help them stay socially engaged, which may boost mood. If the doctor has suggested using light therapy as a treatment, a senior care provider can help the older adult to set up their light box in a place where they can sit comfortably for the prescribed length of time.

If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Des Plaines, IL, contact the caring staff at Companion Services of America today at (847) 943-3786. Our home care service area includes Northbrook, Highland Park, Deerfield, Glenview, Buffalo Grove, Evanston, Des Plaines, Skokie, Lake Forest, Wilmette and the surrounding areas.