Your loved one has become more withdrawn the fewer hours of daylight there are. The cold weather and snow seems to drain all of her energy, and she’s anxious, moody and irritable. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) affects millions of people each year, but that may not be all that’s going on with your loved one. Watch for signs that your loved one is coping with her depression in a dangerous way, and be quick to help her.
He’s Drinking More
Some people try to cope with feelings of depression by drinking, but long-term alcohol abuse is toxic to the human body. Plus, your loved one puts himself and others in danger every time he drives while intoxicated. If you notice your loved one is drinking daily, particularly more than one drink if a woman or two drinks if a man, talk to him about residential programs that will help him cope with his depression while safely and naturally detoxifying himself from alcohol.
You’re not always there to witness excessive drinking firsthand, but there are other signs to watch out for what might add up to substance abuse. A loved one who becomes more withdrawn than she used to be, who stops contacting you, avoids your calls and isn’t talkative anymore when she does let you see her, may be hiding something she feels ashamed of, like alcohol abuse.
He Seems Ill
Depression is often written on a person’s face, but it may take someone else to point out the sudden change in appearance. Signs not as frequently consistent with SAD but consistent with alcohol abuse include:
Other signs of alcohol abuse that could also be signs of SAD include fatigue, insomnia, headaches, stomachaches and anxiety. However, if you notice a combination of these symptoms with the physical symptoms of alcohol abuse, there might be something more to her SAD. Regardless, even if your loved one is suffering from SAD, if it’s affecting her day-to-day living, she needs some form of help.
She Focuses on Drinking
Alcoholics can’t stop thinking about drinking, often to the point where their everyday responsibilities and relationships suffer. If you notice your loved one is frequently late to work or skips it altogether, or she drinks during the day and heads to a bar right after work, there’s more than SAD going on. Alcoholics might also make a habit of going to new bars and new stores to buy liquor every day so the people who work at these places don’t notice how often they buy.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that 28.8 percent of women and 43.1 percent of men have abused alcohol by drinking more than four to five drinks on a single day. Even one instance of binge drinking could prove dangerous to your loved one’s health, but if it’s a regular thing, there’s even more reason to be concerned. Alcohol isn’t a healthy way to cope with SAD; get friends and family together to stage an intervention for your loved one as soon as possible.