Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D.
During the winter months, when the days are shorter with less daylight, many people experience Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D. This seasonal depression goes beyond the winter blues and should be taken more seriously. Scientists believe that the lower amount of daylight that occurs in the winter months triggers a change in the brain, which then produces less serotonin, a hormone that regulates mood. Less serotonin may lead to depression in some people.
Recognizing the symptoms of S.A.D. is the first step in dealing with the depression. Symptoms may include:
- Low energy and fatigue
- Overeating – especially carbohydrates leading to weight gain
- Isolation and no interest in your usual activities
- Lack of focus at work
- Difficulty in getting up for work in the morning
You will know it is seasonal depression if these symptoms occur regularly at the same time of year and tend to disappear in the spring. There are some action steps you can take to help cope with S.A.D., including:
- Spend time outside every day. Even when it is cold and cloudy, you are exposed to sunlight.
- Open the curtains to let in as much natural light as you can.
- Eat a balanced diet.
- Join a gym, take a walk outside, or maybe even embrace winter by taking up ice skating or cross-country skiing.
- Stay social. Join a book club, go to church, or organize a lunch out with friends. Social support is critical.
- Talk to your physician. Sometimes medications or light therapy can be beneficial.
The good news is that spring always follows winter. Those longer, sunnier days will come again soon! If the symptoms of S.A.D. seem too overwhelming, always seek help. Workplace Solutions EAP counselors are available to assist with counseling and other resources at 877.215.6614.
Workplace Solutions EAP is a proud member of the Tandem Family of Companies. Employee Assistance Program services boost employee personal and professional productivity through free and confidential work-life, financial and legal resources. If you are an employer looking to provide this affordable and valuable benefit to your employees, contact us today at 224.353.2782.
Contributed by Carol Doyle, Senior Business Development and Account Manager at Workplace Solutions EAP