What does SAD mean for the LGTBQIA+ Community?

What does SAD mean for the LGTBQIA+ Community?

What does SAD means for LGTBQIA+ Community?

As winter approaches, the nights are longer and people are finding themselves experiencing “winter blues”, otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Statistics demonstrate that over 10 million people in India experience SAD at some point or other in their lives. Studies have shown that depression is highly prevalent in the LGTBQIA+ community as compared to heterosexuals. This makes people more likely to experience SAD due to various celebrations around this time that may trigger the unpleasant memories of ill-treatment by conservative and regressive family members, friends and the members of the society.

LGBTQIA+ community struggles during holiday season

Dr. Sue Ellen Foley, Psy.D, MBA indicates that the holiday season becomes difficult and stressful for many people, including the members of the LGBTQIA+ community. During the new year, it becomes difficult for the people who are in the closet to stay where they are for another year. Being out isn’t easy either, learning that the societal pressure for gender and sexual conformity will persist in the next year too.

what is SAD?

Seasonal affective disorder, as the name suggests, is a type of depression that pertains to the change in seasons. There are changes in mood and symptoms of depression associated with the changes in season, mostly related to winter. In rare cases, a reverse type of SAD occurs during summer.

Dr. Christopher Bellonci, a child and adolescent psychologist at the Tufts Medical Centre has said that SAD mainly affects people who show symptoms of depression overall. However, people who do not have depression can show symptoms of SAD, this may be caused by disruption in the circadian rhythm (sleep cycle) or lack of sunlight which prevents the creation of Vitamin D which affects the serotonin and melatonin levels in the body.

Effects of SAD on LGBTQIA+ people

Rejection from the family, intolerance and ignorance are experienced by the LGBTQIA+ people in extreme amounts. The LGBTQ suicide prevention helpline of the Trevor Project receives a high volume of calls during the holiday season of the year. Going home to family means entering a toxic environment where they cannot be themselves and for others, there’s not even a family to go home to. This, as can be observed, leads to several mental health problems which consequently might lead to seasonal affective disorder in people from the LGBTQIA+ community.

While the holiday season seems to be a happy and joyful occasion for many of us, it can prove to be a highly painful and depressive phase for others. It’s often that the LGBTQIA+ community tend to struggle more with feeling down, stressed, fatigued, irritable, or apathetic during this time of the year. Since there’s a tremendous amount of stigmas pertaining to mental health and the LGTQIA+ community, people might find it difficult to access community-affirming and safe spaces during this pandemic especially.

Dealing with winter blues

Here are a few ways the members of the LGBTQIA+ community can cope with these winter blues:

Setting Boundaries

Before spending time with family this season, it can be helpful to set healthy boundaries around how you would want to interact and spend time with different people in your life. Know that it’s alright to say no to family, and learning to say no is crucial. It doesn’t mean you respect or love them less, it means that you are an individual and are different from them.

Self Care

Holidays are usually emotionally draining and exhausting along with the societal pressure to adhere to the gender conforming norms. It becomes difficult to actually enjoy these times and self-care for yourself. The first step is to acknowledge that it’s alright to care for yourself and to take time to re-affirm your identity and self-worth. Come prepared with things that help you cope through difficult times such as your journal or an affirming letter from a loved one.

Invest in a Light Box

If you feel you’re prone to depressive symptoms during this time of the year or have struggled with depression before, consider a quick consultation with your mental health care provider about how a full-spectrum light box may help you. This may help you boost your mood, and energy and alleviate some of the depressive symptoms.

Buddy System

Nick Frager, queer psychotherapist and OUT100 honouree reminds you to have a safe person, ideally who is also a part of the community, who you consider your safe space and someone who actively listens and is there for you, even if you sound irrational. It’s good to have someone who you can call at any time who will let you know that you are valid and what you feel is okay. Having an ally by your side while you cope with this situation may help you keep a cool head.

Reach out

If you need to vent out or want someone to actively listen to you without judgment and advice, check out your search engine for active listening spaces for free. It’s helpful to talk to a stranger and get things off your head.


While SAD brings in a large number of symptoms and you might feel guilty for it, know that it’s okay to not be okay. Beating up yourself for who you are isn’t going to help. It’s a difficult and stressful time and acknowledging that will help. Being there for yourself during this time is important for you. Know that you’re not alone and that people are there to help you around. You just need to reach out.

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