Seasonal Affective Disorder – how to support your employees

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Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), otherwise known as ‘Winter Depression’ is due to its symptoms being more apparent and severe during the colder months of the year. In this article, Mark Littlejohns outlines the symptoms and the steps employers can take to support employees who may be affected by SAD.

In a recent article published by IOSH the symptoms of SAD are described as including:

  • persistent low mood
  • loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
  • difficulty concentrating.

SAD can be a challenging condition for employees to manage, especially during the winter months.

As an employer, there are several steps you can take to support employees who may be affected by SAD:

  • Encourage and open company culture: creating a supportive work environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health can help reduce the stigma associated with SAD and other mental health conditions.
  • Offer flexible working arrangements: allowing employees to work from home or to adjust their work hours can help them maintain productivity.
  • Promote healthy lifestyle habits: encouraging employees to engage in regular exercise, eat a healthy diet, and get enough sleep can help improve their overall well-being and reduce the severity of SAD symptoms.
  • Offer counselling: providing access to counselling services can help employees manage their symptoms.
  • Encourage breaks: whether to leave the building for a fresh air walk or to converse with colleagues, maintaining social interaction.
  • Encourage GP visits: medical professionals can carry out mental health assessments and suggest the best practice for moving forward.

If your company requires guidance or assistance on health & safety within the workplace, please get in touch with our team of expert health & safety consultants.