Treating Seasonal Depression with Acupuncture and TCM

Treating seasonal depression with acupuncture

Are you having signs of depression as the new year comes around? Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs every year during fall and winter seasons. Sometimes called winter depression or seasonal depression, symptoms typically start to appear in October and November. Fortunately, depression can be treated naturally with Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and can provide relief from SAD symptoms including depression, anxiety, insomnia, and fatigue.

SAD is a form of mental illness that affects 5-10% of the population. Although younger adult women are affected more than men and other age groups, anyone can experience symptoms of seasonal depression.

People who live in warmer climates are not affected by the winter blues as much as those living in cold climates such as New York City. Seasonal depression is caused by shorter daylight hours and less sun exposure. It affects a lot of people who work indoors and work third shift because daylight exposure is so low.

If you have a history of suffering from other forms of mental health disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, ADHD, PTDS and general depression, you are more likely to be affected with SAD.

Treat seasonal depression with acupuncture and TCM

There is no scientific data as to what causes seasonal affective disorder, but an imbalance in serotonin and melatonin levels are believed to have an affect on winter blues.

Low levels of serotonin and high levels of melatonin can create a lethargic feeling and depressive moods throughout the entire fall and winter season.

In addition to seasonal affective disorder, holidays can create more mental health challenges. Traveling and being around family or not being around family can cause anxiety, loneliness, and feelings of isolation. Changes in your mood causes unhealthy changes in your appetite leading to unhealthy eating, weight gain, and insecurities about body image.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is a highly effective treatment option to help with seasonal affective disorder. Traditional Chinese Medicine is all about finding the root cause of emotional and physical symptoms to help relieve depression, anxiety, sleep problems, and fatigue.

Common Symptoms of Seasonal Depression

  1. Difficulty concentrating, foggy brain
  2. Feelings of worthlessness
  3. Depression, sadness, feeling low
  4. Lack of energy, fatigue, low energy, tired all the time
  5. Sleep problems, insomnia, poor sleep, oversleeping
  6. Changes in appetite, cravings for sugar and carbohydrates
  7. Weight gain or weight loss
  8. Anxiety, agitation, irritability, easily angered
  9. Lack of interest in social activities, spending time with friends
  10. Suicidal thoughts, thoughts of harming yourself
Sleep problems are a sign of seasonal depression

Some people experience symptoms of seasonal affective disorder without realizing it. For some, this might mean an increase in repetitive motions such as walking back and forth forgetting thoughts, pacing, and an overall feeling of restlessness. Other people experience general feelings of malaise, moping with shoulders hunched and head down, and the inability to get off of the couch or out of the bed in the morning.

People who have winter blues tend to have more feelings of depression, melancholy, sadness, overeating, oversleeping, and weight gain. Some experience low libido as well.

Treatment for Seasonal Depression

When seeking medical care for SAD, you may be prescribed antidepressant medications such as Zoloft, Lexapro or Wellbutrin to help balance levels of serotonin and dopamine. These medications can all cause side effects and can possibly cause dependency.

In addition to medication, light therapy is another way to help with seasonal depression. This is a special light used to mimic natural light of the sun. Some people have good experiences, while others experience headaches and even more fatigue. People who suffer from eye problems or even diabetic eye problems should stay away from light therapy as it can do more harm than good.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is a safe and effective way to treat seasonal affective disorder naturally and without unwanted side effects.

Can Acupuncture help SAD or Seasonal Depression?

Yes, acupuncture can help with seasonal depression. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, seasons are closely related to our health. Our minds and bodies react to climate change and the environment that surrounds us. Summer gives us energy and inspiration while winter provides us with the vision to go deeper within and plan for the future.

Qi is the energy that flows through every crevice of the body. Qi is made by the food we eat, digested by the spleen and moved through the body by the liver energy. It is possible to keep this energy strong, promote better, sleep, and reduce irritability. Our health, mental and physical, relies heavily on the abundance of Qi.

Tips to Prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder

Nourishing food for seasonal affective disorder

Making changes to your lifestyle is the first move toward relieving SAD. The rabbit hole of eating sugary foods and sleeping all day is real. It’ll take effort to bounce back out of an unhealthy cycle and get back on track. To help with sluggishness, try to do some of these recommendations daily.

  1. Eat warm and nourishing foods – Most people crave heavy foods loaded with sugar and carbs during winter months. It can provide a sense of comfort while simultaneously leading to brain fog, more tiredness, and weight gain. During winter months, eat lightly steamed vegetables, homemade chicken soup, squash, chili, and other warming stews. Balance your gut flora with probiotics and fermented foods such as cabbage and sauerkraut.
  2. Stay away from cold foods and drinks – Salads, ice cold drinks, and raw vegetables can be eaten during warm months. During winter months, it’s best to avoid them. It’s important to balance your body as it relates to the climate and environment. Cold foods and cold weather is a disaster for the gut.
  3. Get some sun – If you work indoors all day, make it a habit to go outside during your lunch break. Try to get as much sun as you can, even if it’s just your face. Your body will respond positively. On the weekends, bundle up and go for a long walk during daylight hours.
  4. Go to bed earlier – Instead of staying awake until midnight, go to bed earlier so that you can wake earlier. This will allow you to have more time during daylight hours. If you sleep until 9am, you’ve lost at least 90 minutes of sun light.

Acupuncture Near Me for SAD and Seasonal Depression – New York City

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is now a widely accepted form of treatment for seasonal depression and other mental health conditions such as anxiety, panic disorders, depression and PTSD. Acupuncturists schedule enough time between patients to thoroughly listen to and assess all physical and emotional symptoms each person presents, and structures a treatment plan that include acupuncture, nutrition, herbs, and supplements as needed. As you go through seasonal changes, your treatment plan will also change accordingly.

If you suffer from SAD, it’s important to be proactive with your treatment. Aim to get help before symptoms arrive so that you can have a pleasant and emotionally healthy fall and winter season.

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