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Seasonal Affective Disorder in the Elderly

How old you are has a lot to do with how much you sleep but also when you get that sleep. Babies sleep most of the time, little kids often wake up early, teenagers sleep past noon, and older people seem to sleep less.

The elderly are affected by depression due to changes in their lives, such as death of a loved one or isolation. Seasonal affective disorder is one type of depression that can affect the elderly, especially those who are housebound. While the most common form of seasonal affective disorder occurs during the fall and winter months, rare forms can happen during the spring and summer months.

Seasonal affective disorder is thought to be caused by a lack of ambient light, changes in body temperature or issues with hormone regulation. Elderly patients, who do not go outside often, especially during the fall and winter months, are susceptible. Also, seasonal affective disorder can develop into major depression.

Seasonal affective disorder is most often seen in the elderly during the fall and winter months. Symptoms include social withdrawal, decreased energy and concentration, lethargic movement, carbohydrate cravings, increased sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, decreased interest in activities and increased appetite with weight gain.

If you find as you get older that your sleep pattern changes, you shouldn’t automatically assume that there’s a problem. As long as you’re otherwise healthy and you’re getting adequate sleep, it could just be your circadian rhythm changing because of age. But talk to your doctor for additional help and advice, or if your side effects don’t go away or get worse.

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