SAD or seasonal affective disorder is something that I had never even heard of until I moved to Indiana. But it’s a mood disorder that affects 9% of those living in the Northern US.
SAD, according to Wikipedia: “Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or winter blues, is a mood disorder in which people who have normal mental health throughout most of the year experience depressive symptoms in the winter or, less frequently, in the summer, repeatedly, year after year. The US National Library of Medicine notes that “some people experience a serious mood change when the seasons change. They may sleep too much, have little energy, and crave sweets and starchy foods. They may also feel depressed. Though symptoms can be severe, they usually clear up.”
How is it caused? Most believe by the lack of sunlight exposure. In the winter time, it’s cold, we bundle up, completely cover ourselves and move outside where there are a lot of clouds. Sunlight does a lot of things to the body chemically, and when the body lacks sunlight–we are affected.
What does this have to do with ministry?
If you’re living in the northern US, chances are there some in your congregation that have SAD. So bear these thoughts in mind as you go through the next several months of ministry and things start to creep up. Maybe there is an unusual amount of criticism. Maybe the mood of your students aren’t as “peppy” as normal. Maybe church events aren’t as attended as you had hoped. There are many other effects that SAD can have on a ministry. Don’t take it personally.
For more information on Seasonal Affective Disorder, check out some of these sites: