By the time October rolls around, do you begin to feel sluggish? Fall and winter are typical times of year when some people began to sense a change in their energy level. They feel their levels becoming low. A greater feeling of fatigue and always being tired becomes overwhelming. So much so, that not even a “good nights” sleep can take care of. Each day turns more and more into depression and hopelessness.
This is especially noticeable when, during the warmer months, these feelings are rare or don’t exist at all. Such experience is typically considered as Seasonal Affective Disorder. To know if you’re going through Seasonal Affective Disorder, symptoms will show up during the colder months. Either growing worst per year or remaining consistent each year. For most, going through this can be unnerving and frustrating; especially when it hits all of a sudden with no warning. The desire for a solution becomes desperate.
What are the Symptoms?
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
S.A.D. is like our bodies needing to go into hibernation, but you’re forced to stay active. In many other animals, hibernation is due to the decrease in 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; but have found ways and reasons to not follow nature. The decrease in sunlight can affect our melatonin secretion, which is guided by our circadian clock.
Serotonin is an essential hormone. When it is lacking it plays a vital role in the onset of depression. Similar to other animals, it can also be challenging for humans to find foods that are in season and that would sustain us for the winter months. Meaning if we did not process our foods, have food from other places shipped in or have restaurants to depend on, we would have a much harder time replenishing during the colder months.
Once upon a time, the luxury of saving food and modifying it for our needs did not exist, and we had to depend on what was available. It is possible that even today, our natural rhythms is still on that cycle. This is something to think about when it comes to S.A.D.
Of course, proper diagnoses should come from a professional if you think you are experiencing some key symptoms. The more you know, the better you can make the best and timely decisions for care.
“Massage? Well yes, massage therapy and bodywork can be an alternative method for dealing with S.A.D.”
Can Alternative Treatments Help?
Combating S.A.D. can be a challenge if you are not willing to take medications. However, they are finding more alternative solutions that are just as effective, if not more. Light therapy, using a special lamp or light box, is most common for those managing S.A.D. It emits a significant amount of visible light (or luminous flux) with a full spectrum of bright white, green or blue at an ideal wavelength. This light simulates the qualities critical areas of the brain perceive as daylight. So as the sun begins to set, it is helpful to turn this lamp on as an effort of extending daylight.
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 Supplementation taken at precise times
- Massage Therapy and Bodywork
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” (‘Massage can Help Reduce Winter Blues‘, an article by AMTA).
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 get the circulation moving, bringing movement to the body, tapping into the meridians; and that effects hormones can be beneficial with depression, anxiety, or mood.
If you already get a 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.