Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD is a form of depression that occurs at certain times of the year. As autumn comes and winter begins, those suffering from SAD will develop a low mood that persists longer than normal, they might become more irritable and may change their eating habits and eat more, putting on weight. In more severe forms, sufferers can have a low sense of self-worth and can sleep for longer than usual.
While many people feel low when winter comes on, those who have SAD tend to find that the condition begins to affect their everyday lives. Helping someone with this condition can be difficult but is by no means insurmountable.
We don’t really understand why SAD occurs but it could have something to do with the disruption of melatonin production, the hormone that precipitates sleep, and serotonin, a hormone that has an effect on your mood and general sense of well-being.
Sunlight is very important to the working of our internal body clock or what is called your circadian rhythm. When this is disrupted you can have difficulty sleeping and this can also lead to developing the symptoms of SAD.
Helping Someone with SAD
There are a number of ways that you can help to improve the life of someone who is suffering from SAD. Because daylight plays an important part, making sure that they get out as much as possible during the day can have a significant impact. If you work with someone who has SAD, then ensuring they have a desk by the window is also a good option.
If you have a friend and family member who is suffering from SAD, then understanding the condition is important. Try to find out everything you can about it so that you can see how it affects people. Particularly when someone is feeling low, showing support by providing a friendly ear to listen to or helping the person around the house can certainly do a lot of good. Getting them to try different things like light boxes to see if they have a positive impact on their condition or making sure that they get outside in the fresh air and sunlight, however dull and grey the day is, helps. Ensuring they eat properly and get plenty of exercise should also be on your list.
There are plenty of people who suffer from SAD and joining support networks can give you access to extra information and tips. It’s also valuable to know that there are other people going through the same experience whether you are caring for someone with SAD or have the condition yourself.