Created on 13 April 2022

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Sadness SAD and the effects of our environment can all become contributing factors on our wellbeing and mental health. When we encounter individuals with this condition, it’s important to remember that it’s not as straightforward as it may appear.

What is SAD?

The commonly used acronym for Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s sometimes confused with a generic dislike or displeasure with the winter months. For instance, we may hear somebody comment flippantly that they “wish it was sunny” or that the weather was more like the Caribbean. However this disorder has a visible and impactful effect on people, who find they suffer with an assortment of physical and psychological symptoms. They may exhibit insomnia, become anti-social or they may adopt a feeling of hopelessness leading to a decline in their energy levels.

Working with participants with SAD

It’s really important to reassure individuals that it’s okay to feel sad and to take their concerns, anxieties and thoughts into account. It’s critical that participants aren’t made to feel embarrassed or to have their anxious sentiments discarded. Helping to make them feel they’re not alone is an effective start in supporting somebody. Assisting a participant with Seasonal Affective Disorder can be difficult because of the effects from the outside environment. It can be challenging – because of shorter days and less sunlight – they might not wish to speak about how they’re feeling.

Support methods

Helping someone to think optimistically about our outside environment can help. At first glance, during the winter months in this country, the trees, foliage and natural vegetation can seem decayed, bare and skeletal. The bright greenery is replaced by darker, more melancholic tones and the temperatures make it difficult to feel like going outside. Yet in this situation, it’s beneficial to remind a participant that the natural environment is only moving through a phase of rejuvenation and regeneration in the winter months. A array of vibrant colours will return again. Altering a perception of the colder, darker months to instil a sense of hope is crucial in changing viewpoints that are central to Seasonal Affective Disorder.

The strength of our imaginations

We can remember that everything has an opposite and that out of difficulty lies opportunity. We should encourage participants struggling with the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder to see the beauty in the natural environment, reinforcing the fact that colour will return. Trees are just nurturing themselves for the spring when they will once again flourish; we too can grow and heal. Reminding the participant that the natural environment is preparing itself for spring and new beginnings. We can simply try to instil fresh hope and reassure that brighter days are always ahead.


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