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Combating Winter SADness in the Workplace: Help Employees Fight SAD – Seasonal Affective Disorder

By: Alan Strashok, Express Scripts Canada Pharmacy Manager, Atlantic

At the beginning of winter, a pattern can start to emerge in the workplace. A normally upbeat manager becomes withdrawn and quiet. A star employee starts coming in late and forgetting about projects. Tempers flare and previously cohesive teams fall apart and behind on deadlines. These are some of the signs of the “winter blues” in the workplace.

Shifts in weather can affect our mood with dull, rainy days bringing us down and sunny skies energizing us. These shifts in mood are temporary and don’t affect our ability to cope with daily life. But our long, dark winters can have an outsized effect on people who are vulnerable to a type of winter-onset depression called “Seasonal Affective Disorder,” or SAD.  According to the Canadian Psychological Association approximately 15 percent of Canadians will report at least a mild case of SAD in their lifetime, while 2 to 3 percent will report serious cases. For this subset of the population, the shortening of days in autumn and winter is the beginning of a clinical depression that can last until spring and be debilitating unless treated.

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