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How should a Christian deal with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)?

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression related to a change in seasons. Usually SAD symptoms begin in the fall and continue into the winter months. The colder, darker weather begins to suck your energy and affect your emotional state.

For most people, battling something like Seasonal Affective Disorder is just a matter of getting enough sunshine, movement, and interaction. Sitting still and doing nothing is a large part of why some people feel depressed and sluggish when the weather turns colder. Even Christians are susceptible to this, since occasionally feeling down is just a normal part of being human. The easiest way to deal with a "normal" case of SAD is just to get up, do something, and stay engaged with people and life. (ALSO SEE: How can I fight boredom?)

Some people, though, have mental health issues or physical complications that make Seasonal Affective Disorder much worse. In those cases, as with any psychological issue, it's important to stick with a doctor's advice. That might mean counseling, therapy, or other means of managing depression. There is no shame in asking for help regarding your mental or physical health. Once again, those are issues which Christians can sometimes suffer from, and it is no reflection on how faithful and trusting they are with God. Our Heavenly Father has given us physicians and allowed advancements in science and medicine for our benefit. We are free to take advantage of the same measures anyone else would.

Believers have some additional tools for combatting things like Seasonal Affective Disorder. There are times when we start to take our salvation for granted, so "meditating" on God's Word is a good way to remind us that we're forgiven, free, and destined for a better place (James 5:13; Psalm 145:5; 2 Corinthians 7:5-7). When we pray, we bring our sorrows to God so He can work through them with us (Hebrews 4:15-16; James 5:16-18). Then when God reveals His will and truth, we can better understand what's happening and be ready to respond (Ephesians 6:18-19).

A Christian perspective also makes it much easier for us to find something to get up and do when we're experiencing winter doldrums. Our faith should motivate us to help others, and there are always things which need to be done for the sake of others (2 Thessalonians 3:13). That often means working alongside other Christians, and having the company of other people helps a lot when we're blue (Hebrews 10:24-25). (ALSO SEE: What does it mean to glorify God with my life?)

Of course, it is okay to be sad sometimes—we all go through those times. We live in a painful and often depressing world (Genesis 3:14-19; Romans 8:20-22). We aren't expected to always put on a happy face and pretend things are okay when they're not. But at the same time, we can "take heart" because Jesus is our comforter and companion in times of sadness (John 16:33). "Taking heart" does NOT mean that we don't acknowledge our sorrow for what it is, but it does mean that we acknowledge our ability to turn to God in the midst of depression—whether it is a seasonal sadness or a lifelong struggle.

TL;DR

Christians can use the same simple techniques others would in order to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), such as seeking a doctor's advice, counseling, therapy, or other means of combatting depression. We can also take special care to focus on prayer and personal study of the Word, as well as making efforts to serve others as a way to interrupt the gloom of gray days.

By: Jeff Laird

Jeff is a staff writer with Got Questions Ministries, and used to be a mechanical engineer. When he's not accidentally setting things on fire in his workshop, or petting strange dogs, he loves helping people better understand God’s Word and how it applies to our lives. Jeff's calling is to untangle the "big picture" of Christian faith, making it easier to understand.

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