Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that people experience at the same time every year. If you would like to help to curb seasonal affective disorder, give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to learn more about how we can help.
How to End Seasonal Affective Disorder and Start Loving Winter
Many people feel down as winter approaches. It’s dark. It’s cold. The holidays can be stressful. But for some people every winter is unbearable. They’re tired and depressed. They don’t want to get out of bed. They snap at their families and binge on junk food. That is when SAD, aka seasonal affective disorder sneaks in.
With SAD, our moods and energy levels fluctuate with the seasons. These days, you are expected to be active, productive and creative at all times of the year. There is no accommodation for a slow, quiet winter.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, this conflict causes stress, which can result in SAD.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that people experience at the same time every year. Most often, symptoms start in September or October and are relieved in April or May, however some people experience SAD at different times of year.
The symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue, lethargy and sleepiness
- Increased appetite
- Carbohydrate cravings
- Lack of concentration
- Decreased libido
No one knows exactly what causes SAD but most of the theories involve light. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, is triggered by light. Some people believe that decreased serotonin is the culprit. Others blame melatonin, a hormone that affects sleep and mood, because it is affected by darkness. In either case, light plays a role.
Western Medicine Treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Western medicine treats SAD with medications, psychotherapy and light therapy.
There are 2 types of light therapy. For bright light treatment, you sit in front of a light box for 30-45 minutes every day. For dawn simulation treatment, a dim light comes on while you sleep and gradually gets lighter.
Many people find light therapy very effective, and a recent Canadian study confirms this. Scientists found that light therapy was just as effective as Prozac for alleviating SAD, with fewer side effects and faster results.
How can Acupuncture help SAD?
Acupuncture has been found to not only help with pain management but to uplift mood and boost energy. There have been numerous studies on how acupuncture can help to improve depression severity and to help with symptoms of chronic fatigue.
Other ways to stay balanced in the winter and ward off SAD:
Practice quiet, yin activities like restorative yoga, Tai Chi, qigong, walking or journaling. Eat warm, slow-cooked stews and soups. Add yang spices like garlic, ginger, black pepper, cloves and basil to your foods. Limit cold drinks and raw vegetables. Rebuild your energy to prepare for spring.
If you would like to help to curb seasonal affective disorder, give our office a call at (425) 686-4498 to learn more about how we can help.
Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc, is a naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist in Bothell, WA at her practice Starting Point Acupuncture. She specializes in chronic and complex cases and commonly treats neuropathy, fibromyalgia, migraines, autoimmune, and infertility cases. Dr. Ellie Heintze is also the author of the book, A Starting Point Guide to Going Gluten-Free and Keep Calm and Zen Out available on Amazon.
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Dr. Ellie Heintze, ND, LAc
- Master’s Degree in Acupuncture
- Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
- Master’s Degree in Chemistry
Northern Arizona University
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