As summer turns to fall and fall turns to winter, we experience various changes in our lives. From shorter daylight hours to colder temperatures and less motivation to get outdoors, some people are affected by these changes more than others. Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a condition that is considered as a form of depression. SAD is a relatively common condition for many people around the world. However, SAD appears to have a stronger effect on people living in higher altitudes where the shift from day to night is more intense. Some of the symptoms of SAD include mood swings, changes in eating habits, hypersomnia, lethargy, decreased social interaction and decreased libido.
Why it happens from an Eastern medicine perspective
According to Eastern medicine, there is the yin and yang, which are opposing forces that complement each other to form a greater whole. Yin is positive in sign and refers to masculinity, warmth, activity and brightness, whereas yang is negative in sign and refers to femininity, cold, passiveness and nourishment. In relation to the seasons, the yin cycle starts in autumn when the number of daylight hours begin to decrease and ends in time for the spring equinox when the days and nights are relatively the same. During the period of time in between when the yin cycle is in effect, people tend to lean towards more sadness, darkness and isolation as the days get shorter. In addition, everything seems to slow down in the winter months due to the nature of yin. With the same busy lives that people are living, additional exhaustion and stress can be added as a result. Yang energy in contrast, can work to counteract the effects of these symptoms to restore a healthy balance.
Another reason for SAD is the body’s inability to properly adjust to a new circadian rhythm. With the transition of the seasons, our body’s undergo a new circadian rhythm to adapt to the darker days and new schedule. When we have difficulty adjusting is when SAD can occur and create a jet lag effect in our bodies.
Eastern medicine solutions to SAD
Eastern medicine can be an effective form of treatment for people suffering from SAD. Eastern medicine’s way of treating patients is to look at the body as a whole which is very important in ensuring a healthy balance mentally and physically when it comes to treating SAD. Eastern medicine, such as acupuncture and herbal medicine, has the ability to tap into the body’s qi or energy flow to restore balance. Acupuncture works to target specific points and meridians so that blocked areas of the body can flow naturally to achieve properly functioning flow in the body. Food is also an important part of Eastern medicine which is why herbal medicine is seen as a powerful tool. With the right food, vitamins and herbs to warm up the body during the cold winter months, you are one step closer to restoring balance in the body.
SAD can be a great interference to one’s daily life. If you are struggling with any symptoms of SAD or depression-like symptoms, it may be hard to search for recovery solutions by yourself. Speak to a health practitioner to ensure you are taking the necessary steps to get back to good health.