Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Seasonal Affective Disorder Touches Whole Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which is basically a state of depression that comes as a result of the seasons. She gets down during the winter months, when there is less sun and more dark days, and is happier during the summertime. To alleviate some of the problems, whenever we go on family vacations we always go somewhere warm and sunny -- which isn’t so bad, if you ask me.

I am afraid I may be suffering from SAD, too. Do you know anything about depression or mental health disorders? Are family health issues often passed down? -- SAD Woman, Baltimore

DEAR SAD WOMAN: I have heard of this disorder and know that some people are more irritable when the weather is cold and wet. If you feel like your mood swings are debilitating or more pronounced when the weather is extreme, it is worth it for you to visit a doctor to discuss your options. Get a medical evaluation and learn what you can do to support yourself.

As far as family issues being passed down genetically, it certainly can happen. Not being a doctor, I do not know about this particular condition. I highly recommend that you consult a medical professional to learn what’s going on with you and to get coping skills to help you through tough times.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I got fired from my job at an investment banking firm two months ago. I am now at a point where I am desperate to earn money. My father has offered me a position in the company he owns. Everything in my body is telling me not to accept the offer, but I need the money to pay my bills, rent, etc. Do you think I should swallow my pride and work for my father or keep searching for another job in the hopes of something coming up soon? -- Should I Work for Dad?, Cincinnati

DEAR SHOULD I WORK FOR DAD?: Why are you hesitant to work for your father? What challenges do you anticipate? I ask because on the surface, it seems like a gift that your father is offering you. You are out of work and need money, and he is throwing you a lifeline.

If you don’t want to work for your father in the long term, talk to him about your goals. Commit to a particular length of time, and do your best during that period. Continue to look for work, but be sure not to abuse the privilege -- look in your spare time, not on the job. Do your best at your father’s company so that you can receive an honest recommendation when you leave. Listen to his advice even as you stay focused on what you want for yourself.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)