What’s the impact of seasonal adjustment disorder at work?

As we now move towards the end of the year and having put the clocks back in October people are already starting to struggle with the darker winter months that loom upon us.


Seasonal adjustment disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (commonly referred to as SAD) is a type of depression that generally comes and goes with the changing of the seasons.

According to Bupa about 20 per cent of the UK population suffers mild symptoms but for nearly two million people, SAD is a seriously disabling illness.

It is believed that a lack in natural daylight affects hormones levels in the part of the brain controlling overall mood. It also affects the internal body clock. Those who suffer from the disorder can experience –

  • Difficulty getting up in the morning
  • Decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • A loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • Burnout
  • Sadness
  • Guilt
  • Hopelessness
  • Gaining weight (cravings)
  • Irritability
  • Poor appetite

It’s important to note that symptoms often vary from person to person, and while the above is not an exhaustive list, it does highlight some of the most common symptoms related with SAD.

Managing SAD in the workplace.

See the light

Are the lights in the office adequate to provide enough good quality lighting? You could consider offering a light box or daylight lamp for desks to help simulate exposure to sunlight. Can you adjust the working area so your staff can be closer to a window? or create a free-flowing space so that no one in your team feels cut off.

Getting outdoors

Although the winter months can be wet and dull, encourage your staff to take more outside walks. You could encourage employees to step away from their desks at lunchtimes and breaks to maybe go outdoors for lunch, meetings and coffee runs.

Flexible working such as changing their start and finish times means employees can adjust their schedule so they don’t have to travel home in the dark.


Regular exercise will increase the levels of endorphins, (the happy hormone). You could suggest a lunchtime running or walking club. A one hour outside walk or run can be as effective as two and a half hours light therapy.

Encourage healthy eating

If you offer lunch or have a canteen, make sure the food is nutritional especially over the winter months. Nutrition can defiantly have an impact on mood. Also suggest cutting back on stimulants like coffee, sugar, alcohol and nicotine as these have a significant impact on mood.

At a glance – natural support for SAD

  • Vitamin D
  • Omega 3s
  • Magnesium
  • Dietary protein from lean meat, fish, nuts, seeds, beans & lentils
  • Wholegrains
  • Beneficial fats from nuts, seeds and oily fish
  • Avoid refined sugars

For severe cases.

Motivate them to see a doctor who can offer treatments such as light therapy, vitamin D supplementation, counselling, and cognitive behavioural therapy.

Educate yourself

By educating yourself on SAD you can help support your employees. It’s all too easy to dismiss SAD and tell people to pull themselves together.

Raise awareness of SAD in the workplace so employees know they have someone to turn to.

You could also make mention of this within a workplace wellbeing policy.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)recommends that SAD should be treated in the same way as other types of depression.

If you would like to fine out more about workplace wellbeing policies, please get in touch. We are happy to help.

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