Stress at the Workplace
Employees SAD this season?

Did you know that there is a type of depression that's related to seasonal changes in light,
known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?

Unfortunately, around this time of the year, seasonal change can threaten happiness, engagement and productivity at work. Did you know that there is a type of depression that's related to seasonal changes in light, known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?


Sunlight helps regulate our internal biological clock. When there are changes in the amount of light we get, that clock gets out of balance, and levels of melatonin (a sleep-related hormone) can increase. This hormone may cause symptoms of depression.


SAD can make us feel tired, crave carbohydrates, gain weight, avoid things we normally enjoy or withdraw socially during the fall and winter months.


Diagnosing SAD

Both children and adults can get SAD. However, it usually develops between the ages of 18 and 30. Four out of five people affected by SAD are women. Some evidence suggests that the farther you live from the equator, the more likely you are to develop SAD.


Although SAD is typically considered a fall and winter disorder, in a small number of cases, symptoms may be triggered by the longer, brighter days of summer. Some people also experience symptoms during periods of overcast weather, regardless of the season. A diagnosis of SAD is based on your symptoms and history. Symptoms of typical SAD must reoccur at least twice at the same time each year, and then subside for the rest of the year.


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Sources:

Mental Health America, “Seasonal Depression,” (accessed 11/02/2017), available at mentalhealthamerica.net.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Less Sunlight Means More Blues for Some”, (accessed 11/03/2017), available at nami.org.

Treating SAD


  • Getting more sunlight may make you feel better.
  • It might be helpful to take walks outdoors or be near a window during the daylight hours.
  • If symptoms are particularly bothersome, light therapy may be recommended. This involves using special lighting while indoors. Therapeutic lighting is much more intense than standard lighting and has been shown to decrease levels of melatonin in the brain. A doctor can help decide how long to spend in this lighting and the best time of day to do so. For many people with SAD, light therapy is very effective. However, if it doesn't work, a professional health provider may have other suggestions, including taking medicine for depression. With proper treatment, SAD is manageable.