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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD Syndrome) is a very real problem that can affect people's mental health and their ability to function in their job. Here we look at raising awareness around SAD Syndrome, what it entails, and proactive steps that you can take to protect yourself, a friend or colleague from being affected by this debilitating disorder.
SAD Syndrome is far more than winter blues and if these symptoms ring true with you then you need to ensure you are getting the professional help you need.
What is SAD Syndrome?
SAD Syndrome is also know as Seasonal Affective Disorder, and is a severe type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD is more common in the winter months and is associated with the lack of daylight affecting people's mood patterns.
- Feeling of despair, guilt or worthlessness
- Feeling lethargic and sleeping during the day
- A persistent low mood
- Suicidal thoughts
- Loss of interest in normal activities
- Sleeping for longer than normal
- Craving carbs and gaining weight
What causes SAD?
There are specific chemical imbalances that can contribute towards SAD Syndrome which is why the condition goes hand-in-hand with the dark winter months.
- Melatonin - People who have SAD might have a higher level of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes someone feel sleepy.
- Serotonin - A lack of sunlight might lead to lower serotonin levels. Serotonin is the hormone that affects you mood, appetite and sleep
- Body's internal clock - Your body uses sunlight to time various important functions such as when you wake up - so dark mornings and dark evenings will effect these functions.
Managing SAD Syndrome
There are support services in Sheffield that can assist, such as Sheffield Mind, and your GP who can point you in the direction of professional help. The main guidance here is not to suffer alone as this will only work to intensify the emotions where getting help can make sure you have the steps in place to make a change for good.
If you know someone who is suffering from SAD at work here are some actions you can take to ease the affects and offer support.
Flexible working hours
Where possible look for more flexible working hours - this could help as people can spend more time in the sunlight before starting work, or finishing early and spending time outdoors before it gets dark.
Create clear boundaries between work and home
This can be hard but do try and leave work within the workplace and make the most of your leisure time. Filling your time out of work with fun activities and hobbies will help to give you a more positive outlook.
Getting outdoors on lunch for a small walk or encouraging outdoor walking meetings will increase exposure to valuable natural light. Even if you don't feel like it make yourself take a walk for ten minutes from your desk to give you a boost for the afternoon.
It may be the last thing you feel like, but exercise is a great way to lift your mood and boost your energy levels. You don't need to do a high impact work out, but it could be as simple as a brisk park walk or yoga session. Consider joining forces with a friend as company and motivation to do exercise.