The purpose of this article is so that we can put our heads together and practically and creatively:
recognise the signs of SAD and offer a wide variety of tools to both balance and manage the symptoms thereof. Also, through education and empowerment, we can rewrite scripts that are currently maintaining the symptoms of SAD.
If clients were able to describe their symptoms in a clear manner, we as therapists and those close could better understand whether the client is mainly stressed, depressed or anxious or is experiencing a combination of all of these. Also, in an ideal world, we as therapists, doctors and those close to the ‘client’ would be able to understand, manage and balance our own SAD and so, the ‘client’ would trust and respect our advice and so feel better.
However, Stress, Anxiety and Depression so often present with similar symptoms. And there are other reasons why therapists, those close and the client is confused; Stress is frequently equated with success. Then why are our stressed clients often also depressed with panic attacks and/or phobias? Then there is Depression; with it’s embarrassment and associated stigma and secrecy. Also, the symptoms of Mourning with the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job or the loss of health and other losses, mirrors the symptoms of depression and anxiety. A further complication and confusion with SAD is that the client could be experiencing side-effects from antidepressant medication and one of these side effects might be panic attacks, whilst another might be anxiety or depressed mood. Also, in my experience, low iron or thyroid frequently presents in the client with fatigue, low motivation and other depressive symptoms. Whilst overactive thyroid can present with symptoms of anxiety and agitation and irritation. In addition, sometimes that client who is experiencing mostly stress and anxiety does not recognise the ‘quieter’ underlying depression that is being masked by the ‘louder’ stress and anxiety. further to the above confusion and complications of SAD, it can be contagious; i.e. family, friends or colleagues at work might feel SAD when they are close to the client. As health care professionals or medical doctors, the question to ask is: How often does our own SAD impact on our clients and theirs on us?
So what can our clients and we as professionals do in the face of SAD? Use creativity, feedback from others and talk to trusted others to identify SAD. Use self-help like exercise, deep muscle relaxation and the many other tools offered in Stress matters and Depression Matters. Seek psychotherapy for the management and treatment of SAD. Consider holistic treatments available for the balancing of SAD symptoms; these frequently involve homoeopathy, aromatherapy, reflexology, acupuncture and more. Should the client not be feeling significantly better after trying the above, he or she could consider psychotropic medication with the holistic tools for the balancing of SAD.
We so often find that a client feels physically ‘ill’ when in fact they are experiencing SAD. So the medical or healthcare professional should explore the possibility that the client’s iron, thyroid, Vit B, Vit D, testosterone, low blood pressure or other physical or chemical factors that need further exploration. When these are out of balance and are then rebalanced, the symptoms of SAD reduce or dissappear. Then there are clients who do not wish to take psychotropic medication. They fear addiction or they have seen a colleague or a family member experience particularly bad side-effects of this type of medication. In these cases it may be useful to offer the client over the counter herbal or homoeopathic remedies for the symptoms of SAD. Should these not work adequately, the client could be offered information about the pros and cons of psychotropic medication. We should not discount the effects of insufficient light in the Northern Hemisphere where some people experience the symptoms of SAD. When this is the case, these people; clients and professionals alike can consider the use of light boxes which as known to alleviate the symptoms of SAD.
In summary, clients, those close, like family and work colleagues and we as professionals could use the myriad of self-help tools available, like exercise and relaxation. We all could benefit from education about SAD and also, the open communication about SAD, will remove a great deal about the secretness and embarrasment surrounding the symptoms of SAD.