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How Massage Therapy Can Help Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of seasonal depression. If you have SAD, you'll normally experience general depression, lack of energy, and irritability during the winter months every year. However, not every person afflicted with SAD experiences symptoms in the winter. Some people have the reverse experience and have symptoms of depression in the spring and summer months. Seasonal Affective Disorder is a sub-set of major depression, and the symptoms can include:

  • Feeling depressed nearly every day
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Changes in eating habits, appetite, or weight
  • Diffculty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

As you can see, these symptoms range from somewhat annoying to very serious. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, you should tell someone you trust, and get help immediately. However, if you have a more mild case of Seasonal Affective Disorder, there are many steps that you can take to relieve some of the symptoms. Eating well, getting plenty of exercise, and attending talk therapy can all help you cope with your SAD symptoms.

Massage can also be an important part of managing, and in some cases decreasing your SAD symptoms. Massage is a well-known way to lower anxiety and depression. The simple act of getting a massage can increase the neurotransmitters that work to lower anxiety producing chemicals in your body, as well as decrease the hormones responsible for stimulating your anxiety reactions.

Massage also decreases your heart rate and both your systolic and diastolic blood pressures. This is important because while an elevated blood pressure is a dangerous health condition, it is also a symptom of SAD that can impact your daily well being. An elevated blood pressure can cause you to feel tired, run down, and cause your body to metabolize food in an incomplete way. Improperly digested food means you are not getting all the nutrients you need from your food, no matter how well you're eating.

Massage offers something that virtually no other therapies for depression offer. It offers the power of human touch. When you receive a massage, your body doesn't just feel better because the aches and pains are gone, although that is a large part of it. As humans, our bodies need the comforting, restorative touch of another human. When you receive a massage, your body reduces its stress hormones, and your body pumps your system full the happy "love" chemical cocktail that makes us feel so relaxed after a massage appointment.

Don't forget that your skin is the largest organ on your body. There are nearly 18 square feet of skin on an adult human body! When combined with other relaxing elements, a massage can be practically as effective as a session of psychotherapy. Taking time out for yourself and getting a massage is not a luxury. In many cases, it can be an important complementary treatment to help you get through the "winter blues" and make sure you can face your life head on, no matter what season it is.