Updated: Jul 17
Combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder With Massage Therapy
What causes SAD?
The exact cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder isn’t fully understood by the medical community, but it’s often linked to reduced exposure to sunlight during the shorter autumn and winter days. It is particularly prevalent in states or countries where the seasonal change results in significantly less daylight.
A primary theory for the cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder is that a lack of sunlight might stop a part of the brain called the hypothalamus working properly. A inactive hypothalamus can affect the production of melatonin in the human body.
Melatonin is a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. In people with SAD, the body may produce it in higher than normal levels. The production of serotonin may also be effected. Serotonin is a hormone that as a significant effect on your mood, appetite and sleep cycle. A lack of exposure to sunlight during the winter month may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is strongly linked to feelings of depression
Symptoms of SAD
Symptoms of SAD can include:
a persistent low mood
a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
feelings of despair, guilt, and worthlessness
feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
craving carbohydrates and gaining weight
For some people, these symptoms can be very severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.
Massage Therapy as a Treatment for SAD
Massage therapy has a proven record of improving mood and elevating energy levels. Patients looking to overcome the symptoms of SAD can find relief by integrating massage therapy into their health maintenance routine. Shorter days and colder temperatures can leave many Americans feeling depressed and lethargic. Research into how the seasonal changes affect moods in humans show that regular massages improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to better sleep and more energy.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter with functions in various parts of the body, works to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory, and learning. Massage therapy was also found to improve sleep, specifically by assisting with circadian rhythms, or the body clock.
One of the major issues with SAD is that it is a depressive disorder. A fast developing body of research is documenting the impact of massage therapy for relief of anxiety and depression. In a 2015 controlled study of HIV-positive adolescents, participants who received massage therapy reported feeling less anxious and less depressed by the end of the twelve-week study.
in conclusion, in times of decreased sunlight during winter months we do not get enough serotonin and dopamine production. Massage helps the body to relax and unwind therefore decreasing stress and allowing your body to increase its serotonin and dopamine production. Therefor feelings of well-being are increased and hopefully it helps lesson the effects of SAD or the winter blues.
Adding massage therapy treatments to your personal health and well-being routine may be extremely beneficial on many levels. During these dark and cold winter months receiving 1 or 2 monthly massages may really be beneficial for you. It can range from 30, 45, or 60 minute treatments. This can be discussed with your therapist Chantelle. and together you can create a treatment plan that works for you and your needs.