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Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D) is a type of depression which is determined by the time of the year. Sufferers are afflicted with low moods, disturbances in sleep schedules, lapses in concentration, anxiety, and loss of interest in social activities; these symptoms differ to those of other forms of depression because they are determined by the winter months where daylight hours are short, and therefore there is an absence of sunlight and the benefits that go along with it. People who were born or spent a lot of time in hot climates, like many Muslim countries, and have moved to colder countries, such as the U.K are more susceptible to the condition, however, it can afflict anyone. Recent research has suggested that 29% of British people suffer from various symptoms of S.A.D. Since the prevalence of S.A.D is so common, especially this time of year, here are five things that Muslims with the condition want you to know.

1. It’s not our fault we don’t want be sociable.

The feelings of low moods make us feel lifeless when the sun goes down. Post 5pm in the winter, sometimes all we feel like doing is sitting alone… a lot of the time. This is not entirely our fault, we want to be friendly but it is a big weight pushing us down, making us feel unable to do basic things let alone going out and meeting people. Even if we are the best of friends.

2. It does not mean we have lost our faith.

Just because we feel low, and feel like we have lost hope, it does not make us bad Muslims nor does it mean we have a weak imaan. We still have strong faith in Allah, and although our moods may change with the weather, it does not mean our imaan fluctuates as easily. This condition is like any other illness, you would not say to someone who has the flu because of the winter that they have lost faith in Allah, therefore treat SAD as a mental flu.

3. It’s not us being lazy or not wanting to work.

When the sun goes down, we can lose all forms of productivity. We may want to work and finish assignments or get housework done, but our bodies are telling us not to. Our bodies are telling us it’s the middle of the night because of the absence of the sun, but the reality is that we really need to get this work done – we just can’t.

4. No, we do not understand why it is happening either.

Or sometimes know how to work through it. It happens for a few months every year, meaning we often do not want to go on medication or seek long-term help because we do not know how we will feel in the summer months. We know it will pass, and while we remain hopeful the dark cloud will disappear, we feel at a loss of how to cure ourselves in the short term. Although there are things such as light therapy, CBT and antidepressants, your GP will recommend the best option for you depending on your severity.

5. Don’t abandon us.

Even though we may seem like we do not want to be sociable or productive, that does not mean we do not need our friends and loved ones. Even if we are pushing you away.  Make the effort to check up on us periodically, ensure that we are taking care of ourselves properly, as sometimes we can forget to do basic things such as eating properly, hydrating ourselves and getting regular exercise. Even by talking to us little and often, it will be really appreciated and we will be extremely thankful. It could be you that gives us a little bit of sunshine on a gloomy day.

If you want to have a chat about your SAD, or would like to get further help – feel free to contact us and we would be happy to help you in any way.

Inspirited Minds is always here for you, come winter, come summer.

Jamilla Hekmoun

Jamilla is a final year undergraduate studying Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies and Vice President of the Islamic Society at the University of Exeter. After being diagnosed with anxiety and depression, she is keen on improving the understanding of mental health conditions within Muslim communities. Follow her on Twitter @JamillaTweets.

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