Seasonal Depression and Food Addiction: What is the Connection?

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Many factors can influence the development of a food addiction, including genetics, family history, biological predisposition to addiction, environmental triggers and more.

The need to utilize food as a means of escape or a form of a coping mechanism can be triggered by a myriad of issues, including the presence of an underlying mental illness, such as anxiety or depression.

Understanding any possible factors that may be related to a food addiction can be helpful in finding recovery and healing from this disorder.

For countless individuals, seasonal depression is a serious issue that can significantly impact quality of life. Seasonal depression, also known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is a mental illness and form of depression that occurs during the same time or season each year.

Individuals experiencing seasonal depression may feel and experience symptoms of depression during the winter months of the year, with symptoms usually resolving in the spring and/or summer.

SAD & Food Addiction

While there is no known cause for seasonal depression, it is thought that biological factors, such as an imbalance of neurochemicals and hormones, may influence the development of seasonal depression, along with family history and environment.

For a person who is also susceptible to a food addiction, having seasonal depression may trigger the urges to consume food out of a need of escape from the feelings that may be experienced alongside this disorder.

Seasonal depression and a food addiction can easily become co-occurring, in which these two disorders develop alongside each other.

A person who is experiencing symptoms of depression may find comfort in eating, even if only temporary, and become addicted to the “high” or sense of euphoria that is experienced by eating highly palatable foods.

Unless the underlying condition is acknowledged and treated, having a co-occuring disorder, such as seasonal depression, can further fuel and complicate a food addiction.

If you believe you may be struggling with a food addiction as a result of seasonal depression, be sure to find comprehensive treatment from a psychiatrist, counselor, and nutritionist to fully address the complexity of these issues.

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About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on January 28, 2016
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About Baxter Ekern

Baxter Ekern is the Vice President of Ekern Enterprises, Inc. He contributed and helped write a major portion of Addiction Hope and is responsible for the operations of the website.