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Can Seasonal Affective Disorder Lead to Substance Abuse?

seasonal affective disorder

The link between seasonal affective disorder and substance abuse can lead someone to relying so heavily on drugs and alcohol that they become addicted to these substances. Addiction can be detrimental to the ability to functionally live life and be successful. Combating addiction can be a challenge once that stage has been reached. However, there are some tips to managing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder that can help alleviate the symptoms associated with it.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression affected by the changes in season. The symptoms usually begin and end around the same time every year, and can generally be seen in fall and winter months and begin to dissipate in the spring and summer. This is not the standard though. It can vary person to person.

SAD can affect anyone, but particularly tend to affect those who reside in areas where there are extreme changes in season. There is help to manage the symptoms, and making it easier to live with SAD. Different therapies and medications have proven to be effective in alleviating SAD symptoms and making life easier.

Symptoms of SAD

There isn’t really a one size fits all guideline to identifying seasonal affective disorder. However, more commonly seen symptoms are fatigue and mild depression. Other symptoms of SAD can include:

  • Changes in sleep, such as sleeping too much or too little
  • Changes in appetite
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Isolation

These are symptoms of both seasonal affective disorder and substance abuse. This is where the connection between the two can be seen.

Is There a Connection Between Seasonal Affective Disorder and Addiction?

The signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and substance abuse are similar. The array of emotions associated with SAD can lead someone to start self-medicating with drugs and alcohol as a means to cope with and lessen the intensity of these feelings. Turning to substances as a way to deal with things can lead to dependence, and this can lead someone down the dark path of addiction, necessitating the need for alcohol detox or drug detox. There is a connection between the two, though SAD is not necessarily a cause of substance abuse and addiction.

Tips to Managing Seasonal Affective Disorder and Substance Abuse

While there is no one specific way to avoid seasonal affective disorder, there are some tips that can be used to help manage the symptoms that may arise. Having these tips and trying to curb the effects of SAD can help to break the link between seasonal affective disorder and substance abuse.


Having a healthy exercise routine can be beneficial to exerting negative energies that can contribute to the severity of the SAD symptoms. Exercise has many benefits, not only for the physical well being of the body, but also the mental well being. It can help to release tension and built up stress.


Seasonal affective disorder can be benefited by having hobbies. Healthy ways to bring some positivity into the seasons that can usually bring someone down into a state of depression is one of the best ways to turn the bad feelings caused by SAD into a better state of being for the person who is suffering.


Having a space to freely express yourself, without judgment and criticism can be helpful. Being able to open up about how you’re feeling and not having to just deal with and fight to maintain a semblance of a normal life can help you to sort through your feelings and emotions without having a negative impact.


This is one of the best ways to turn around the negativity of seasonal affective disorder. After all, when a routine is in place, there may be some relief in symptoms that may come up. Depression can be a monster for anyone experiencing it. Having ways to get through depression, such as a routine, can be helpful.

Seek Professional Help

There are people trained to help those living with SAD. Utilizing them and working to fight the symptoms off, both through therapy and medication, is one of the best tips to managing seasonal affective disorder. You don’t have to just sit in the feelings, and hope that they go away. By its very nature, SAD can almost guarantee that the feelings will return like clockwork. In other words, getting professional help can ensure you have the right tools for the long run.

Getting Help for Addiction in South Florida

SAD can cause someone to be thrown off to the extent of turning to drugs and alcohol to cope. Here at Retreat of Broward we aim to provide care that helps those suffering with addiction find a better way to cope with conditions such as SAD. Contact us today and our professionals will help to guide you through the beginning stages of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction!

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