Fall and winter are a typical time of year when some people began to sense a change in their energy level and how they generally feel day to day. Energy levels are low and there is a greater feeling of fatigue that not even a “good nights” sleep can take care of; the day to day feeling turns more and more into depression and hopelessness. This is especially noticeable when they realize that during the warmer months, these feelings are rare or do not exist at all. This experience can typically be considered as Seasonal Affective Disorder. For symptoms to fully be considered as Seasonal Affective Disorder, you would have these experiences only during a specific time of year, either growing worst per year or remaining consistent each year. Additional symptoms may include:
- Having a hard time waking up in the morning and oversleeping
- Eating a lot of carbohydrates for comfort that may lead to weight gain
- Not being able to concentrate or completing simple tasks
- Withdrawal from usual activities, family and friends
- The lack of pleasure or not being able to find joy
- Being pessimistic and having a dull outlook on life
When you think about it, S.A.D. is a little like going into hibernation but being forced to stay active. In many other animals, hibernation is due to the decrease of sunlight, the lack of available food and the hardship of surviving during the winter months. For humans, it is possible that we can go through similar challenges. The decrease in sunlight can affect our melatonin secretion which is guided by our circadian clock. There is also a possibility that SAD affects important hormones in our body like serotonin, which is known to play a role in general depression when there is a lack of. Of course proper diagnoses should come from a professional if you think you are experiencing some key symptoms.
“Massage? Well yes, massage therapy and bodywork can be included with the alternative methods for dealing with S.A.D.”
Combating SAD can be creative if you are not willing to take medications. Light therapy using a special lamp or light box is most common for those managing S.A.D. It emits a great amount of visible light (or luminous flux) with full spectrum of bright white, green or blue at an ideal wavelength. This light simulates the qualities key areas of the brain perceive as day light. So as the sun begins to set, it is helpful to turn this lamp on as an effort of extending day light.
Other alternative methods include using:
- Dawn Simulation Methods – which has about an 83% proven effective success rate (from some studies)
- Ionized Air Administration
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Melatonin Hormone Supplementations taken at very specific times
- Massage Therapy and Bodywork
Massage? Well yes, massage therapy and bodywork can be included with the alternative methods for dealing with S.A.D. According to AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) research has been done and shows that “regular massages improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and more energy” (https://www.amtamassage.org/research/Massage-Therapy-Research-Roundup/Massage-Therapy-Can-Help-Reduce-Winter-Blues.html). Research is steadily growing in the field of Massage Therapy and how it can be beneficial with various conditions including psychological and behavioral. In bodywork, modalities that gets circulation moving, brining movement to the body, tapping in to the meridians, and effects the hormones can be beneficial with depression, anxiety, or mood.
If you already get massage for relaxation, aches and pains or just to be pampered, the next time you are feeling blue, schedule an appointment. If you have not had a massage before, be sure to do your research to find a therapist that is right for you; one that will listen to your needs and work toward your goals.