It’s the time of year that we associate with colorful lights, the magical quiet of snow, exchanging gifts, eating holiday-themed baked goods, and celebrating our holiday traditions with family or friends. Even for those who don’t celebrate any holidays during the winter, it’s often a time to enjoy a few extra days off. In the media we consume wittingly or unwittingly, the imagery and music associated with December are almost exclusively cheerful, jolly—exuberant even.
Despite all of these tidings of good cheer, this is also the time of year when many experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is also known as seasonal depression. In fact, December is Seasonal Depression Awareness Month.
SAD is characterized by a loss of interest or enjoyment in activities, a decrease in energy, and depressed mood—much like major depression, with which SAD frequently co-occurs.1
It is generally thought that winter-pattern SAD is triggered by a decrease in exposure to sunlight (although about 10% of folks with SAD have a summer pattern triggered by increased exposure to sunlight).1
If your circadian rhythm cannot adjust to more or less light or if these changes cause a drop in your serotonin levels, you may experience SAD. It is thought that the predisposition to developing SAD is genetic.1,2
At J&J Editorial, our Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council and Wellness Committee curate resources to help support our diverse colleagues, including those who may experience SAD. We hope that this reflection may be one such resource.
Whether you celebrate holidays this December or just look forward to some time off, we’re wishing you and yours a joyous December!
—Christina Baswell, on behalf of the Diversity & Inclusion Advisory Council
- Seasonal affective disorder. MedlinePlus. Updated May 1, 2019. Accessed December 7, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/seasonal-affective-disorder/
- Seasonal affective disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Accessed December 7, 2022. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/seasonal-affective-disorder