Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is not simply feeling sad or moody during a certain timeframe. SAD is a type of depression that starts (and finishes) at about the same time every year. Approximately 6% of the US population is affected by SAD, and although the number may seem small, in reality those affected by it probably see it as a big problem. It can make one feel hopeless and lose interest in things that were once part of everyday life. Not only does it affect mental health, but also physical health, like weight gain and shifts in sleep patterns, as well as your social health (self-isolation, relationship building, etc.). It can be draining, and for some people make them feel as if they are doing something wrong by feeling this way.
So, what can you do to help a loved one experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Read the three tips below:
- Be Sensitive and Accepting. You do not need to be a mental health expert to be there for someone. In fact, you do not even need to comprehend what SAD is to lend an ear (or a shoulder). Simply being accepting can help someone feel better. Do not be afraid to reach out and express how much you want to be there for your loved one. Like with most delicate subjects, address it with an open mind and offer assistance rather than solutions.
- Become a Workout Buddy. Exercise can be helpful for those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Why not offer to buddy up? It can help get others get out and about when they otherwise would not have the strength to do so. Having someone to walk with or take a class with can be what is needed to maintain an exercise habit. In fact, having a workout partner can increase motivation. If you know someone who needs that extra boost to get out and start moving, offer to join them. Not only will you get some cardio in, but also an opportunity to connect and catch up. In person not happening? No problem. Virtual is just as effective so schedule that zoom party and get moving. It is more about the act of moving together that is important – not necessarily the location.
- Give Support. Giving support is beneficial in it of itself, whether it is picking up some food from a favorite restaurant or sending a good morning text, assistance is usually welcomed. Keep in mind support looks different to different people. Some may want someone to talk to while another person needs a person to run errands or help clean the house. Ask how you can help instead of assuming what needs to happen. Finding ways to be there for loved ones can be challenging but remember, doing even the smallest of favors can help someone out greatly. Not to mention it may put a smile on your own face as well.