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SAD at the Workplace

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious concern that a lot of people face every year.  Symptoms usually appear during the late fall or early winter months then subside during the sunnier days of spring and summer.  Most people don’t realize it, but it can become a real problem in the workplace.

Most SAD sufferers don’t realize there are employers that are willing to come to an agreement with those employees who are diagnosed with SAD. During the winter, sufferers are given time off to see their doctor, given frequent breaks, and help with setting up a light therapy lamp at their desk. So talk to your boss about your problem, so they don’t think you are being lazy or not doing your job.  It could hinder your chances of getting a raise, promotion or recognition that you deserve.

There is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against the disabled.  For those SAD sufferers out there, you are entitled to schedule changes, access to windows and other modifications.  There have even been recent legal rulings that are prompting human resource specialists to warn about the need to take this type of depression seriously. It’s important to get treatment, but be up front about what’s going on in your life with the people who need to know.

SAD is rare for people to admit at their place of work, but it is protected under the disability law. The number of discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission related to anxiety, depression and other psychiatric disorders nearly doubled between 2005 and 2009. Last year, there were 3,837 complaints filed nationwide.

For employees to be entitled to workplace accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act, they must prove that their disability substantially impairs their lives and that the accommodation does not cause an undue hardship on the employer.

You need people to talk to. It’s important for everyone, but even more so for the people who have SAD. Fellow sufferers can be great people to chat with; because they can help you see that you aren’t alone. Don’t just suffer through each winter and pretend like you’re happy and everything’s ok. Instead, make sure that you see your doctor and talk to your employer.

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