It’s that time of year again…days are shorter, it’s getting colder, and people are bundled up and staying indoors. There are bright, sparkling lights hanging in windows, trees and candles flickering inside, and way too much food to eat. It’s the winter holiday season, a time for sharing, caring, and overindulging.
But despite all this, there are people hurting. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) hits a lot of people this time of year. It’s a form of depression that generally begins in late fall and hits a peak during the middle of winter. People who suffer from this find they have no energy, they are sad most of the day, feel isolated, and unfortunately, some turn to suicide.
It seems strange that people would slip into this dark space during what’s considered a festive time of year. And it’s not just people who live alone or don’t have many friends or family. It can affect anyone. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, even your close friends.
The thing is, people who suffer from SAD often don’t say anything, don’t seek help. They suffer silently, treading the dark water trying to keep their heads above the surface. Some are too embarrassed to admit they have a problem and need help. Others simply don’t know how to ask because they don’t know what’s wrong. They all end up struggling to keep moving, to put a smile on their faces.
But these people don’t need to suffer. They may not always seek help, so we, their friends and loved ones, have to make an effort to look for signs. Are they sluggish or agitated? No appetite and having a hard time concentrating? Or maybe their eating way too much, overindulging in alcohol, or maybe even showing violent tendencies. The link I posted above lists out some of the warning signs, as well as risk factors and treatment options. Please, take a few minutes to read the information there so you can be ready to help someone who may need it this winter.
Sometimes, just acknowledging that someone needs help and listening to them can help. If you think someone you know is dealing with SAD, talk to them. Show them you care, that you’re there for them. That may be all it takes to pull them back to the light.
And if you are the one who is suffering, please, don’t be afraid or embarrassed to talk to someone. If you don’t have someone in your life you can talk to, there are websites and call centers you can reach out to for help. There’s no shame in seeking help. In fact, it’s sign of strength when you can ask another person for help. You can do it.