I find I get an influx of new clients at this time of year; most of them talk about having low self esteem. However, through their sessions with me, it is often revealed that they may not really have low self esteem but are suffering from a condition known as S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

SAD is a disorder that seems to afflict many people living in northern latitudes. It often comes on around November (it can be earlier or later for some people and will vary from year to year) and lasts until spring (again it will vary). The symptoms or signs of SAD will also vary from person to person but common signs include difficulty sleeping, lacking energy, overeating, mood changes and, sometimes, feelings of low self-esteem.

The main sign, however, are feelings of depression. It is an unusual depression, however, it is more than just feeling sadness or melancholy (such as in the common understanding of the term ‘depression’) and it is not a typical bio-chemical depression (such as in true ‘depression’). It does appear to be a bio-chemical reaction within the body, apparently triggered by a lack of sunlight reaching the body during winter months.

SAD is not always easy for a person to recognise in themselves; it would have to occur regularly each year before it could be recognised. Often a sufferer would be more concerned about one or more of the signs, such as sleeping difficulties, loss of libido or feelings of low self esteem.

Clients who come to me at this time of year reporting low self esteem are often relieved to discover that that is not what is really affecting them. That is not to say that they do not benefit from the sessions, far from it, even it this low self esteem is transitory, you need support and a plan to get through it. They are often worried, though, about the SAD and here they would need to obtain medical advice.

There are treatments for the condition but it is best, I feel, to avoid medication especially medication for true depression. Such medication may well not have an effect upon Seasonal Affective Disorder and could lead to a degree of dependency. Thankfully, medical practitioners are able to recognise SAD and distinguish it from clinical depression. Treatment for SAD often revolves around light therapy, preferably natural sunlight or artificial lights that mimic the electro-magnetic range of natural light.

It can be difficult also for the partner or family of an SAD sufferer. They may well find it hard to understand why a sufferer has undergone an apparent change of personality. The loss of libido, sleeping problems, depression and low self esteem can create problems for the people close to the sufferer. Relationships and marriages can be put under pressure at this time. This is especially true if neither the sufferer nor the partner really understands what is happening or why. Even the most supportive partner or family can have difficulties if they do not understand the nature of them problem and, especially, if they do not understand that it is usually a short-lived or transitory problem. Partners and families too need support and coaching to help them through these times but understanding that it is not a long-term or permament condition (though it may re-occur each year) is often the first step.

Of course, some of the clients who approach me at this time of year genuinely are affected by low self esteem and the coaching sessions are of benefit to them as well. the key for any client is to correctly identify the nature of their problem and help them to find appropriate ways of overcoming or coping.

Author's Bio: 

Douglas Woods is a qualified teacher, trainer, life coach and counsellor. You can read more about his work on his website at www.dougwoods.com