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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

meme-sadSeasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that typically starts in early winter and is relieved by spring. Symptoms include:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • 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 the effect of light on hormones.  Serotonin, the “happy hormone,” affects mood, memory, energy levels, cravings, (especially for carbs), sleep habits, digestion, etc.  Its levels increase with exposure to light.  Serotonin levels drop with:

  • Exposure to cold or darkness
  • Chronic stress and multi-tasking
  • Digestive disorders, dieting
  • Lack of exercise, poor sleep.

Melatonin is a hormone derived from serotonin.  Its level increases after darkness falls, helping us fall asleep, stay asleep, and the quality of sleep.  During a northern winter, melatonin levels rise, and serotonin dips.  This is thought to be one of the main causes of SAD.

Acupuncture and TCM can help SAD

Acupuncture has an immediate effect on the nervous system.  It normalizes the symptoms of depression and anxiety and restores a calm state of mind.

Not everyone is affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
The question is: Why are some people affected and not others?
With TCM, the root cause can be determined, and steps taken
to reverse the energetic imbalances that lead to SAD.

Holistic Perspective

We are a part of, and interact with, the natural world.  Autumn segues into winter as daylight decreases, temperatures drop and nature takes a rest.  Life slows down in winter.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes a holistic view of the body and seasonal cycles.  We understand that our bodies should slow down in winter and synchronize with nature.  But modern life pressures us to be active, productive and creative at all times of the year, with no accommodation for the rhythms of nature.

The combination of cold dark days, with stressful work and holidays, contributes to exhaustion. Carbohydrate cravings are the body’s attempt to replenish depleted energy.


What you can do to ward off SAD

  • Investigate light box therapy to increase light exposure.
  • Talk to us about vitamins, supplements or herbs appropriate for your situation.
  • Conserve your energy.  Practice quiet, activities like yoga, walking or journalling.
  • Eat warm, slow-cooked stews and soups.
  • Add warm herbs and 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.

SAD can be relievedGet a seasonal acupuncture treatment with Catheryne and discuss treatment options.

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