Can Seasonal Depression Worsen or Complicate Alzheimer's?
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Can Seasonal Depression Worsen or Complicate Alzheimer's?

Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that affects people during certain times of the year more than others. Mostly, SAD affects people during the autumn and winter months when the days are shorter and there is hardly any sunlight. As a result, the body produces less serotonin and vitamin D which are also needed for serotonin production. Serotonin is needed by the brain to regulate mood, so its lack leads to depression.

Additionally, the lack of sunlight in the winter months means that the body also produces more melatonin, which is necessary for a person to go to sleep. However, an excess of melatonin can lead to depressive symptoms.

The Connection Between Alzheimer's and Seasonal Depression

A study from 2018 shows that when people with Alzheimer's also get seasonal depression, then this can reduce their cognitive skills and increase symptoms of dementia. It turns out that seniors, with or without Alzheimer's, have better cognitive skills in the spring and summer months. In the winter months, the cognitive decline can be as much as five years' worth.

Symptoms of Seasonal Depression in Connection With Alzheimer's

If you think that you or your senior in Orlando might have seasonal depression, here are some of the symptoms to look out for:

  1. A heavy feeling in the limbs which might prevent the senior from moving around too much. They may also feel tired all the time.
  2. The senior may not feel like being sociable and might start avoiding friends or family members.
  3. The senior may have difficulty concentrating. They may lose their enthusiasm for games like chess or puzzles.
  4. The senior may express feelings of helplessness, such as not being able to do things that they were previously able to do.
  5. They may have trouble remembering things that they were previously able to remember.
  6. They may feel more anxious and restless than usual. They may also be more irritable and more sensitive.
  7. They may lose their appetite and lose weight as a result. On the other hand, they may overeat and gain weight.
  8. They may not feel motivated when it comes to personal grooming.

In terms of seniors in Winter Park who suffer from Alzheimer's, the symptoms that indicate a loss of cognitive skills might be more pronounced. This means that their memory will be worse than usual and tasks that once seemed easy will start to seem more difficult.

Combating Seasonal Depression in Seniors With Alzheimer's

If you think that your senior in Apopka, who has Alzheimer's, may also be suffering from seasonal depression, then it would be a good idea to consult a doctor. Here are some of the things that might help in combating SAD:

  1. The senior's doctor might ask you to take them to a psychiatrist who will prescribe an antidepressant.
  2. Behavioral counseling may also help the senior learn how to cope with seasonal depression.
  3. Light therapy, which involves being in sunlight or specific types of indoor light, more often, may also be a good idea to relieve seasonal depression and increase cognitive skills for those with Alzheimer's.
  4. Taking vitamin D (in consultation with the senior's doctor) can also help because vitamin D plays an important role in serotonin production.
  5. Making plans with your senior or encouraging them to make plans with friends can help alleviate symptoms of any kind of depression, including SAD.
  6. Some types of exercise (it doesn't have to be hectic) can also help the senior to regulate their mood.

If your loved one in Kissimmee has Alzheimer's and you think that they are also negatively impacted by the changing seasons, then keep an eye out for the above symptoms. If you feel that the senior has quite a few of these symptoms, then they may have seasonal depression, in which case you should consult a doctor and consider medication, light therapy, or any of the above-mentioned ways of alleviating this depression.

Our professional and trained caregivers will make sure that your loved one takes their medication on time. They can also make sure the senior gets light therapy, if required, and some exercise every day. Contact us to learn more about how our caregivers can be helpful to seniors with seasonal depression and Alzheimer's.