Do you suffer from seasonal depression? Learn how massage therapy can benefit you in the winter months to come.
You Can Use Massage Therapy to Fend Off Seasonal Depression – Here’s How
One in five Americans suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder.
What is seasonal depression?
Seasonal Depression is often referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. It is a depression that occurs each year, beginning in the fall and worsening through the winter months, and eventually tapers off in the spring.
Who suffers from SAD?
SAD is more common than you may think. In fact, approximately half a million people in the United States suffer from it while 10 to 20% of Americans suffer from a less severe case of, “the winter blues.” While older adults are less likely to experience SAD, this form of seasonal depression often begins in early adulthood and may even occur in children. Women are more susceptible to this seasonal illness and make up three quarters of SAD’s population.
What causes seasonal affective disorder?
While the exact cause of SAD remains unknown, there is strong scientific evidence that suggests it is often due to limited exposure to sunlight during the winter months. One theory suggests our internal biological clocks that regulate mood, sleep and hormones begin to shift with the decrease in available sunlight and begin reset at the end of Daylight Savings Time.
Other theories suggest the chemicals in our brains, specifically neurotransmitters like serotonin, are imbalanced in those who suffer from SAD. Exposure to sunlight may correct this and we may often pay a visit to the tanning bed to get ourselves out of this seasonal rut but recent studies have determined there are other much safer ways to reverse the chemical imbalances many of us experience at the onset of winter.
“As we approach the colder, darker months, massage therapy may be an effective method of deflecting common seasonal challenges,” said Jeff Smoot, 2015 President of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). “Massage benefits the way our bodies react to negative influences, whether that’s weather, anxieties or disorders.”
Massage therapy for seasonal affective disorder, anxiety and depression
Many people are turning to the power of massage therapy to fend off their seasonal depression. Recent studies show routine massages not only improve your mood and reset your circadian rhythms, but also naturally release serotonin and dopamine, the same chemicals in our brains that are often offset as we transition into Daylight Savings Time.
In addition to resetting our, ‘feel good,’ chemicals, massage therapy also leads to more energy and improved sleep as Melatonin, the chemical known to affect sleep patterns, is believed to increase due to a lack of sunlight. This explains our sluggishness and feelings of lethargy during the winter. Getting a massage will promote healthy blood flow to deliver oxygen to your body’s cells which, in turn, results in increased energy – something many of us need in abundance during this time of year.
Even if you only suffer from a mild case of the wintertime blues, the physical benefits of routine massages are good for everyone. Massage therapy not only resets the chemicals in our brains, but it improves the cardiovascular system, muscle flexibility and fascial mobility to increase strength and range of motion.
It’s important to prioritize self-care and stay proactive to prevent injury this winter. Massage is a crucial aspect in body mechanics so if you see a dentist for your teeth and a doctor when you’re sick, stop in to see a massage therapist today to keep your body operating at peak performance!
About the author
Megan Zanchi, LMT-MMA is a massage therapist at the Oasis Spa at Milestone and specializes in trigger point therapy. To schedule an appointment with Megan, give us a call at 502-753-7541, leave us a comment below or contact us here to schedule your appointment.