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Seasonal Depression and Medicare: What Benefits are Available?

seasonal depression and medicare

Depression of any type can be tough to overcome, but help is available. Call (800) 950-0608 to speak with our licensed agents to learn about Medicare Advantage plan options in your area that provide mental health coverage. Ready to become a Medicare beneficiary today?

Just the Essentials:

  • The winter season can bring on feelings of sadness and depression for many seniors.

  • This form of depression is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

  • Most therapies designed to treat SAD are covered by Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans.

  • Call us today at (800) 950-0608 to learn more about Medicare Advantage plans in your area that can help cover treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The Changing of Seasons Can Affect Your Mood. Does Medicare Cover Seasonal Depression Treatment?

For many, winter is a time filled with joy and cheer. The holiday season is in full swing, and friends and family begin coming together to spend time with each other and celebrate.

For others, particularly seniors, winter brings on a sense of terrible dread and a decrease in quality of life. It gets darker earlier. The incoming lingering cold brings mental and physical afflictions. The holidays become a reminder of those they never see, or those who have passed on. Combined, these factors create a form of depression that can be tough to overcome.

Seasonal depression in seniors is more common today than ever. If it’s left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues for senior citizens afflicted by the disorder. Fortunately, treatment for depression is also more easily available to senior citizens who need it.

Does Medicare cover mental health treatment? Further, does Medicare cover treatment for seasonal depression? We have the answers to these very questions in today’s article.

This Type of Seasonal Depression Has a Name - Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal depression, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), can present just like typical clinical depression. However, it differs in that it primarily occurs when the seasons change, is often brought on by the transition of fall into winter, and typically lasts only through the winter months. 

Medical researchers have not been able to pinpoint a direct cause for the disorder, but feel that it has a great deal to do with the seasonal shift in daylight, which affects our serotonin and melatonin hormones. 

For many seniors, Seasonal Affective Disorder can be triggered by:

  • The sun going down earlier each day
  • Joint pain caused by incoming colder air
  • Lack of contact with family during the holiday season
  • Remembering the loss of friends and family during the holiday season

If you notice any of the following symptoms or changes during the winter primarily, you may be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder:

  • Feeling “sad” or “down” most days
  • Lack of interest in favorite pastimes
  • Issues with your sleep pattern (you may sleep too much or not at all)
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of self-harm or suicide

Are you suffering from any or all of these symptoms? If so, it’s important to visit your regular healthcare provider as soon as possible. They’ll be able to conduct a series of evaluations that can help determine whether you’re suffering from symptoms of SAD or something more serious.

seasonal depression and medicare

Therapies and Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Treatment for this form of depression is very similar to the treatment for clinical depression. Psychotherapy and medication are the two main methods for treating the condition in seniors. 

One form of therapy that differs from the norm and is commonly used primarily for seasonal and winter depression is light therapy. Light therapy involves exposing yourself to a bright light every day within the first hour of waking up. It begins working quickly, typically within a few days, and causes few side effects. 

In order to undergo light therapy, you’ll need to purchase a special light box. Your healthcare provider can help you find a box that’s right for you. They can also help introduce you to the various features and options available, and they can provide guidance on how and when to use the light box.

Does Medicare Cover Mental Health? What About Depression Services and Seasonal Depression Treatment?

Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B) and Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C) plans do provide coverage for mental health services and treatment. This includes treatment for seasonal affective disorder. However, the coverage is typically only provided for more conventional forms of treatment, such as psychotherapy and medications.

Medicare plans usually do not provide coverage for light therapy, as it may not be considered “medically necessary”. Some Medicare Prescription Drug and Medicare Advantage plans also may not cover certain medications that you need to treat this type of depression. 

To find out whether antidepressants and antidepressant medication prescribed to you to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder are covered by your Prescription Drug coverage plan, it’s best to ask your health insurance company or check your plan documents.

To supplement your existing treatment, you can also opt to take part in the following healthy coping and support mechanisms:

  • Sticking to your existing treatment plan
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting enough vitamin D
  • Getting regular exercise/physical activity
  • Choosing healthy food and drinks
  • Keeping away from alcohol and recreational drugs
  • Learning stress management techniques, such as yoga and meditation
  • Socializing with others
  • Taking winter trips to places that are warm and sunny to combat your SAD symptoms
seasonal depression and medicare

Does Medicare Cover Mental Health Benefits? What about Treatment for Seasonal Depression? Indeed, Help is Out There.

If you’re a senior suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, know that you’re not alone. You should also know that there’s help out there to aid you in fighting it. Mental health care and treatment goes a long way toward helping you live a long, healthy, and happy life, whether it’s to assist with the symptoms of depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, or any other mental illness, such as severe anxiety or bipolar disorder.

Medicare Advantage plans available in your area can provide the coverage you need to help you access therapeutic solutions and treatments. Begin comparing the Medicare Advantage plans in your area by entering your zip code into our free plan finder below. 

Once you’re ready to discuss your options, feel free to give us a call at (800) 950-0608. Our licensed insurance agents are always happy and available to help you find a plan that works for you!

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