Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD, is a serious depressive, seasonal disorder which stems from individuals getting less sunlight in the winter months and spending more time indoors. Shockingly, SAD affects one in five Americans, with women making up three quarters of those affected. SAD often begins in early adulthood and may also occur with children.
What are the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD?
Symptoms of SAD can include:
Persistent low mood
Loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
Feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness
Lack of energy, lethargic
Sleeping longer than normal
Struggling to get out of bed in the morning
Craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD?
The exact cause of SAD remains unknown, but there is strong scientific evidence that suggests it is often due to limited exposure to sunlight during the long winter months. One theory suggests our internal biological clocks which regulate our moods, sleep and hormones begin to shift with the decrease in available sunlight and begin to reset at the end of Daylight Savings Time.
Other theories suggest the chemicals in our brains, specifically neurotransmitters like serotonin, are imbalanced in those who suffer from SAD. Exposure to sunlight may correct this imbalance but one of the ways studies have shown to help reverse the chemical imbalances is massage therapy.
How does Massage Therapy target SAD?
One of the many therapies that can help SAD is getting regular massages. According to the American Massage Therapy Association, massage can help can counteract physiological mood factors that often accompany SAD. Getting a regular massage can specifically help decrease the effects of SAD by helping to:
- Reduce anxiety and depression with a course of care providing benefits similar in magnitude to
those of psychotherapy.
- Increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety.
- Significantly decrease heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure.
- Improve mental health by reducing depression in individuals.
- Improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and more energy.
Treating individuals with SAD is one of the many ways that massage therapists can assist their clients in maintaining their overall health and wellness. Even if you only suffer from a mild case of the wintertime blues, the physical benefits of routine massages are bountiful. Massage therapy not only resets the chemicals in our brains, but it improves the cardiovascular system, muscle flexibility and fascial mobility to increase strength and range of motion.
As we look to head into the warmer Spring months, stay proactive on your health and keep yourself in tip top shape so you can be ready to enjoy the sunny days ahead! Call and make an appointment for a massage today!
Tracy Smith LMT
Massage Therapy – Bryn Mawr, PA