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The days are already getting shorter and it’s still September. Do you or someone you know get the wintertime “blues”?

Less sunlight in the fall and winter, coupled with more time spent indoors, can trigger what is known as Seasonal Affective Disorder in many people.  SAD can prove to be a serious form of depression and reduce the quality of life for those with the disorder.

SAD is typically treated with light therapy, psychotherapy and medications such as antidepressants. Symptoms of depression include loss of interest in things you were once very interested in, fatigue, sleep changes, decreased energy and general low mood. In the winter months, people stay inside more, so activity levels change. These changes decrease the body’s production of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters.

If you are experiencing symptoms of SAD, also consider therapeutic massage. Massage is, in essence, its own medicine. Massage gently reduces many of the symptoms of depression.

Massage decreases cortisol levels, which helps to decrease stress. Massage also allows the body to restore nervous system functioning. Massage increases the level of endorphins in the body, which is the body’s natural anti-depressant. Massage also helps to strength the mind-body connection which increases a person’s general sense of wellbeing and immunity.

There are several proven ways in which massage therapy can counteract physiological mood factors that often accompany SAD. Massage therapy can reduce anxiety and depression with a course of care providing benefits similar in magnitude to those of psychotherapy. Massage can increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety and decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety. In addition, massage can significantly decrease heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure.

Treating those with SAD is one of the many ways that massage therapists can offer real help to their clients in improving overall quality of life.

©The Academy of Massage Therapy and Bodyworks
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