The Connection Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and ADHD

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is more than the winter blues. It’s a type of depression that can occur at any time during the year. For those with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), SAD can generate a new set of challenges.

It’s been found that individuals with ADHD have a higher chance of developing SAD. In fact, they are three times more likely to have the mood disorder than those without it. The cause has been linked to a disruption of the body’s internal clock due to seasonal change—specifically sunlight patterns. This can alter one’s sleeping and eating habits, leading to additional physical and mental conditions such as fatigue, stress and depression.

Individuals who experience additional symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, poor appetite and weight loss for more than two seasons, meet the criteria for SAD. The disorder affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. and is four times more common in women than men. Those with both SAD and ADHD may feel overwhelmed and struggle to manage the conditions. But there are multiple treatments, including lifestyle changes, that can reduce their impact.

Exercise: Regular physical activity has been proven to boost your mood. Not only is it a positive outlet for negative energy, it also triggers the release of endorphins, commonly known as feel-good chemicals.

Sleep: The dramatic shift from shorter to longer days or vice versa, can be a hard transition. So, it’s important to re-establish a sleeping schedule and get an adequate amount of rest. This will help combat the feeling of fatigue and anxiousness.

Medication: Don’t be afraid to speak with a doctor about your symptoms and possibly adjusting medication. Although they may prescribe antidepressants to treat SAD, be aware of any conflicts or negative side effects that may occur.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: Speaking with a mental health professional can have profound benefits. As a form of psychotherapy, CBT focuses on a person’s thoughts, feelings and actions. The goal is to eliminate negative patterns and toxic behaviors that can be a danger to one’s self and others.

Diet: Limiting sugar and eating healthy balanced meals can work wonders on your psyche. Avoid heavily processed foods and aim for more nutritious options like fatty fish (salmon, tuna, rainbow trout), fresh berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries), seeds and nuts (walnuts, almonds, flaxseeds).

If SAD symptoms persist, please contact a primary care physician for additional support.

For more information about SAD, read these blogs:

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