Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’) is a form of depression which effects people during the Winter. In conventional medical terms, it is normally believed to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
It can range from a mild case of the ‘winter blues’ to a severe and debilitating condition.
There is very little available in terms of conventional treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’).
Many sufferers use light boxes which emit a bright white light similar to daylight, other than that antidepressants are probably all your doctor can offer.
However, seasonal conditions such as this are well understood and explained by Chinese medicine theory. Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’) is often related to a Yang deficiency, which becomes more noticeable and severe in the winter time. Yang is the bright, warm motivating force of the body which gives you your ‘get up and go’ and when it’s weak it can often lead to depression and tiredness.
If you have deficient Yang you will also feel the cold more acutely than most people, and will likely have poor circulation. It is also possible that your digestive system is weak or easily upset. You will also likely have low energy levels (especially in the Winter)
The acupuncture treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder (‘SAD’) therefore focuses on restoring the strength of the Yang energy. Often, acupuncture will be combined with the warming technique called moxibustion where some ‘moxa’ (dried Chinese mugwort herb) is burned to provide a gentle but penetrating heat.
This helps to reinforce the Yang strengthening effect of the acupuncture. This is a lovely technique, and I normally find that Yang deficient people love it!
Acupuncture will also help to regulate the mood and emotions – the key word here is ‘balance’.
Treatment is best begun before symptoms begin, and then regularly throughout the winter to maintain the beneficial effects. In my experience, it can be a very effective way of lifting the spirits and ‘keeping the Winter out’!