Seasonal Affective Disorder – more than just the winter blues

December 3, 2015   //   No Comments

How can you help employees affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder?

winter forest smallFor around 1 in 15 people in the UK, the ‘winter blues’ can’t be easily shaken off; these people are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.  At its most severe, SAD can be completely debilitating for sufferers with symptoms such as severe depression, anxiety, panic attacks and mood changes, as well as a lack of energy and concentration problems. These symptoms obviously make it difficult for those suffering from SAD to continue working in their normal capacity.

In severe cases, someone with SAD may end up taking a significant amount of time off work. In this case, employers can refer employees who have been off work for four weeks or more to Fit for Work. They will then have a 45-minute consultation with a trained health professional, who will explore in-depth the way they are feeling and what they think is stopping them from doing their job successfully. Working with the employee, the Fit for Work health professional will draw up a Return to Work Plan which can then be shared with the employer, and will contain suggestions of workplace adjustments which may help those suffering from SAD to return to work.

Some of these workplace adjustments could be as simple as installing a light box in the office, which are designed to simulate sunshine and help to increase the production of serotonin, improving someone’s mood; or ensuring employees suffering from SAD sit nearest windows while at work; and even adjusting working hours so that employees with SAD leaves the office before it gets dark at night.

Employers looking for help for employees with SAD symptoms can also call the Fit for Work advice line on 0800 032 6235, or visit the website.