Seasonal Affective Disorder: Coping Tools from an Acupuncturist
- Lethargy, difficulty focusing, hypersomnia (increased sleep)
- Depression, negative thoughts, decreased social interaction, loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed, lowered libido
- Increased food cravings (especially rich, carb-heavy foods), overeating, possible weight gain
- Anxiety, irritability, restlessness, “cabin fever”
- Acupuncture is a fantastic resource for managing S.A.D. Fine needles inserted into the skin and muscle layers can stimulate hormone release into the bloodstream – including dopamine, seratonin, noradrenaline and norepinephrine. (These are all natural mood enhancers that our bodies produce) 1-2 acupuncture treatments per week is sufficient to produce these desired effects.
- Regular exercise, especially cardio, to move blood and keep energy up
- Vitamin D supplement
- Try to go to sleep and wake earlier, to keep a schedule more in line with daylight hours
- Limit excessive carbohydrate and sugar intake – when you do get cravings for these things, opt for whole grains, hearty squashes, yams/sweet potatoes, etc
- Avoid overeating in general, which can lead to low energy and decreased moods
- Keep an active social calendar – this will help you feel connected and ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation
- Regularly engage in hobbies and creative projects – this will give you an outlet and help you to feel productive and accomplished
- Spend as much time near windows and outside during daylight hours as possible
Winter can be a tough time, especially in Minnesota where it can be so extreme. Listen to your body and get creative – you may find a new hobby or skill that brings you joy, connect with a new friend that engages you in a way you’ve been lacking, discover the contentment of cooking a nourishing meal for yourself – the possibilities are endless.
Written by Mallory Carlson, L.Ac