Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a condition only recently recognized by the medical community, is a form of seasonal depression that usually occurs during the fall and winter months.  SAD usually begins during the fall as the daylight hours start to wane, and continues through spring when the light returns. While SAD shares basic symptoms with classic depression—feeling hopeless, losing interest in activities, difficulty concentrating, etc.—it also has its own specific set of symptoms.  These include:

  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Difficulty “getting along” with other people
  • Oversensitivity to rejection
  • Heavy feeling in the arms and legs
  • Carbohydrate cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Oversleeping

The conventional treatment for SAD is light therapy, which uses full-spectrum artificial light to supplement the lack of natural light available.  Antidepressants may also be prescribed by your medical physician.  While these treatments may help reduce the symptoms of SAD, prescription antidepressants carry the risk of side effects including:

  • Eyestrain
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • High blood pressure and
  • Reduced libido

Acupuncture is a natural adjunct to conventional treatment and has shown promise in treating symptoms of depression associated with SAD.  It is believed that acupuncture helps the body regulate the release of serotonin  noradrenaline and norepinephrine.  A study published in a Chinese medical journal in 2014, also suggests that it regulates circadian rhythms—the body’s sleep/wake cycle, which is influenced by light—and melatonin production, which makes it a viable alternative not just to antidepressants but to light therapy too.

Acupuncture, as part of an individual treatment plan developed by our Chiropractic Physicians, can improve mood and help alleviate the symptoms of SAD by restoring the body’s natural balance.

References:

http://www.acupuncture.com/newsletters/m_mar05/main1.htm http://www.pacificcollege.edu/acupuncture-massage-news/articles/1046-natural-treatments-for-seasonal-affective-disorder.html http://www.acupuncture.edu/2014/03/18/dealing-with-s-a-d-seasonal-affective-disorder-guest-post-by-dana-hoffman-acupuncturist/ http://psychcentral.com/lib/acupuncture-anxiety-depression/00017321

Non-academic references:

http://www.cimh.com/blog.htm
http://www.manylivescm.com/seasonal-affective-disorder-from-a-traditional-chinese-medicine-perspective/
http://www.thetotalhealthcenter.com/blog/-are-you-sad Scientific studies: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25426637 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25233660 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25206803

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