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How to help employees who have SAD (seasonal affective disorder)

Seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD) can affect anyone. While it’s normal to experience periods of irritability or sadness as summer comes to a close, it may affect some employees more than others. SAD can be even more prevalent at companies where employees work long hours inside. Higher rates of seasonal depression amongst a workforce can lead to poor morale, lower productivity rates, and more time out due to illness. Fortunately, there are several ways employers can help employees address these issues in a healthy and beneficial manner.

Did you Know? 1 in 4 Employees Quit Work Because of Mental Health?

#1 Become Familiar With the Signs and Symptoms of SAD

All employers should become familiar with the signs and symptoms of SAD. Some of the most common signs are:

  • Feelings of sadness most days of the week or most hours of the day
  • An inability to concentrate or to finish work tasks
  • No longer being interested in the hobbies and activities once considered enjoyable
  • A change in appetite and an increased craving for carbs, sweets, and junk food
  • Sleeping too much and running late for work
  • Decreased energy levels and a lack of enthusiasm
  • Feeling hopeless or as though everything is one’s own fault
  • No longer wanting to live and thoughts of suicide

If your employees are exhibiting any or all of these symptoms then they may be experiencing SAD. Many of these symptoms are quite similar to clinical depression. The difference between clinical depression and seasonal affective disorder is that SAD is brought about due to a change in seasons (primarily summer into fall and winter months), while clinical depression can occur during any time of the year. Once employers and other employees know what to look out for they will be better equipped to offer assistance and get that person the help they need.

#2 Implement Regular Screening Measures During the Fall and Winter Months

Many people who are diagnosed with SAD may not realize they are affected by it until much later in the season. Because of this, it’s a great idea for employers to implement regular screening measures as the season changes. Don’t just screen your employees at the beginning of the fall. SAD can strike at any point in time during the fall and winter. There are many screening tools available to the public that can be utilized in the office. These self-report screening measures can help an employee recognize that they may be affected by SAD and to seek further treatment if needed.

#3 Respect Employee Privacy

If you suspect your employee is struggling with SAD it is important to address your concerns in a private matter. Whatever information they may disclose to you should stay private. Have empathy for your employer, as they might be struggling to come to terms with their own feelings as well.

#4 Have Compassion

It’s important to be empathetic towards employees that are dealing with mental health issues of any kind. Understanding what your employee is going through will help you have more compassion. By showing compassion and allowing them the time they need to get help they will be more likely to be forthcoming with you in the future.

#5 Incorporate Wellness Training Into Your Work Space

An innovative way to bridge the gap between company culture and mental health is to make wellness training accessible to everyone. Consider implementing a program like Caredness into your workplace. Caredness is a fully virtual platform that can help your workforce find the tools they need to improve their mental health and quality of life. In addition to creating a more positive workplace culture, virtual wellness training can also help to improve overall job satisfaction and reduce the rate of attrition.

Companies depend on a healthy workforce in order to remain successful. By implementing these tips and tools into your workplace you’ll not only increase company morale, but also your bottom line.

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