During this time of year when the days are shorter and nightfall comes earlier, many people are affected by a seasonal depression. SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, affects more than 10 million Americans. Seventy-five percent of those who suffer from SAD are women. SAD generally starts in October or November and can last until spring.
Depression is the primary symptom of SAD, but others includes fatigue, loss of energy, irritability, headaches, decreased sex drive, increased sleep, weight gain, difficulty concentrating, loss of energy, and the craving of junk food. The exact cause of SAD is unknown, although stress, heredity, hormones, and decreased amounts of sunlight (vitamin D) are all thought to be contributing factors.
Generally we want to sleep a little more, eat more comforting and warming foods, feel more sluggish and unwilling to leave our homes, and experience low spirits and depression. Western doctors believe it to be a chemical imbalance in the brain, but Chinese medical theory holds that it’s an energetic imbalance within the organ systems. Energetic disharmonies can create chemical, mental, emotional, and physical imbalances.
Acupuncture and herbology can be effective forms of treatment for SAD. Acupuncture and herbs can regulate the energy in the body to help it restore its natural balance. By restoring balance, the body will return to a healthy state and the symptoms associated with SAD will soon disappear. Preventative measures such as a healthy diet, exercise, and stress reduction are also very important in keeping the body in sync. Remember to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, drink at least 6-8 glasses of water a day, and avoid sugar, caffeine, and smoking. Receiving adequate sunlight has helped many people with SAD, so try to schedule a time each day to enjoy the outdoors. If possible, take a vacation to somewhere warm and sunny. Talking to a therapist or a counselor may also help. If you feel like you’re stuck in a seasonal slump, take some kind of action. There are many different ways you can help yourself or someone you know who is affected by SAD. So don’t let this potentially rewarding and special season bring you down.
Acupuncturist, herbalist, Maya abdominal practitioner, and reflexologist Christina Morris is the founder of Element Natural Healing Arts. Writing about health and wellness gives her an outlet to express her care and concern for her beloved community. She believes everyone can achieve better health and happiness–emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually.