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The Winter Blues

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also colloquially referred to as the “winter blues”, is a form of depression that mainly occurs during the latter half of fall and the remaining winter time. This condition usually coincides with the darker months as the seasons get colder and the sun sets sooner– due to the annual Daylight Savings.

SAD affects approximately 5-10% of the population annually, with women and youths being a more susceptible demographic. Those who do not get enough sunlight exposure are at a higher risk of SAD, especially as the days are shorter and the nights are longer.

Common symptoms of SAD:

  • Depression

  • Fatigue

  • Lack of energy and focus

  • Irregular sleeping patterns

  • Irregular appetite

  • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness

It is also important to note that those with prior mental health/psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression, ADD, etc. can have symptoms further exacerbated during seasonal changes. It is also possible that seasonal affective disorder can happen even during the summer and spring months.

Acupuncture: Alternative Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder

The most common treatment for SAD usually involves medication such as antidepressants that aid in increasing serotonin levels and lessening anxiety and depression. There are also various forms of therapy that are available for those who are suffering from SAD such as talk therapy and even light therapy where a light fixture acts as sunlight.

Although these treatments may be effective, Traditional Chinese Medicine emphasizes holistic and non-invasive treatments for mental health. The winter months are viewed as the Yin whereas the summer months represent Yang. The theory is that in Yin, our bodies naturally take on a dormant state in order to preserve energy in preparation for Yang.

With this, acupuncture treatments use exact acupoints and herbal medicine in order to stimulate overall Qi flow and activate a boost of energy within various organ systems.

Self-care massage points:

  1. GV20- Baihui point can help improve the body's energy and is located at the midpoint of the line connecting the tips of the two ears.

  2. PC6- Neiguan point can stabilize our spirit and improve the mood of depression and frustration.

  3. ST-36- Zusanli point can enhance our vitality. With sufficient vitality, we are less likely to feel fatigued or depressed.

In addition to acupuncture, it is also crucial to partake in self-care:

  • Healthy Diet- Includes avoiding cold foods and drinks during colder months

  • Movement routine to get the energy flowing

  • Sunlight exposure

  • Re-adjusting sleep cycle

Although the time change can be a tough adjustment for many, do not lose hope. Your body is a powerful self-regulator! Sometimes tender self-care and sunlight can bring your peace back to balance and improve your headspace at least by a little bit.

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