What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal Affective Disorder, otherwise known as SAD, is recognised as a depressive disorder that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. SAD can sometimes be known as 'Winter Depression' because symptoms are usually more apparent and more severe during the winter.
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 countries where the seasonal change results in significantly less daylight... unfortunately that includes the U.K.
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. An inactive hypothalamus can affect the production of melatonin (the hormone which makes you feel sleepy) in the human body and the production of serotonin (the 'happy' hormone which has a significant effect on your mood, appetite and sleep cycle) may also be effected. Therefore, a lack of exposure to sunlight during the winter month may lead to lower serotonin levels, which is strongly linked to feelings of depression
Additionally, your circadian rhythm - also known as your body’s internal clock, uses sunlight to time various important functions such as when you wake up. Lower light levels during the winter months can disrupt your body clock, which then directly affects your sleep pattern and then lead to symptoms of SAD. ... However, all hope is not lost. Massage Therapy & Treating SAD
Massage Therapists have a long and proven track record of improving mood and elevating energy levels in their clients. Patients looking to overcome the symptoms of SAD can find relief by integrating Massage Therapy into their overall health maintenance routine. The depression and lethargy felt from shorter and colder days can see marked improvement following just one treatment if not a series of massage treatments. Massage Therapy can also increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety. What is more, it can also significantly decrease heart rate, systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.
Research into how the seasonal changes affect moods in humans show that regular massage treatments improve mood and reset circadian rhythms, leading to improved sleep and more energy. One of the major issues with SAD is that it is essentially a depressive disorder. A lot of research is taking place on the impact of massage therapy for relief of both anxiety and depression. In a 2015 controlled study of HIV-positive adolescents based in the USA, participants who received massage therapy reported feeling less anxious and less depressed by the end of the twelve-week study.