Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that follows a seasonal patter. Some people refer to SAD as the winter blues, or winter depression.
I didn’t know I had a problem with the weather until one day when it literally made me cry.
My sister-in-law had insisted that we go for a drive in the country. It was a dull overcast Saturday morning in October. I was seven and a half months pregnant and feeling like my time would never come. All I wanted to do was crawl back into bed. But she insisted. So off we went.
We were less than two minutes away from my house when it started to rain. I suggested that we go back but she said no. I watched the windscreen wipers go back and forth as the rain pitter pattered down the glass. Suddenly tears were rolling slowly down my cheeks. I felt utterly miserable.
Sis-in-law was waiting for a response to a question, when she didn’t get it she turned to see me crying.
“What’s wrong she asked” urgently.
“It’s raining” I responded flatly. With that she burst out laughing. But I was serious. It was raining and I felt miserable. We put it down to possible baby blues as we continued on our drive.
Regular absence from work
It wasn’t until two years later that a work colleague really pin pointed my problem. She was the admin manager and part of her duties included keeping absence and sickness records. On this particular day I was in the admin office moaning about the miserable cold weather as usual, when she suggested that I suffered from seasonal affective disorder.
I asked her what that meant and she produced some articles that she had been collecting from the Newspapers. She said she believed that I suffered from it because of my sickness and absence records. I always had the most time off during the winter months. She said that I was quieter during the winter months, whereas in summer I was bubbly and happy.
She admitted that the only reason that she recognised it in me was because she discovered that she suffered from it herself. In one of the articles a few people were interviewed who had actually lost their jobs because of poor sickness records due to the illness. There are a lot of people out there who don’t realise that they suffer from the illness and just as many employers who refuse to accept that it is an illness.
What are the symptoms of Seasonal affective disorder?
Although the exact cause of SAD isn’t completely understood, it’s often linked to reduced sunlight during the autumn and winter months. SAD is less common in countries near to the equator where the hours of sunlight are more constant and bright throughout the year. SAD usually first begins between the ages of 20 to 30 but it can develop at any age. It affects four times as many women as men.
Despite only occurring at a particular time of year, the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder are similar to normal depression.
- a persistent low mood
- feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
- loss of interest in everyday activities
- lack of energy and sleeping during the day
- weight gain from comfort eating
If you’ve find yourself experiencing these symptoms then you should speak with your doctor who assess your mental health and recommend treatments. Treatments for SAD range from antidepressant medication, light therapy (a device that gives of strong white light), and talking therapy. Your doctor will be able to advise on what’s best for you.
I found that antidepressants and light therapy worked well for me in the beginning. Now, I only need to use my light box as the depression has lessened over the years.