During the winter, the blues strikes about 10% among the general American population; that number rises to 20-30% in northern latitudes such as Portland (Portland Psychotherapy). About 6-8% of Americans and 5-9% of Portlanders will develop a more serious form of cyclic depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is triggered by the scarcity of natural light the fall and winter.

Symptoms of SAD include:
–Fatigue during the day.
–Decreased ability to focus; feeling like you’re “in a fog” mentally.
–Grumpiness and irritability.
–Decreased libido.
–Amplified need for sleep.
–Growing appetite for “comfort foods” such as starchy carbohydrates and sweets.
SAD may also prompt social withdrawal. Women between the ages of 20 and 40 are most likely to experience this form of major depression.

SAD sufferers may feel compelled to crawl into bed and “hibernate,” but our modern lifestyle doesn’t allow such seasonal rest. As such, doctors recommend various therapies to alleviate SAD.

Light therapy is the most commonly proscribed solution for SAD. Sitting under light lamps that mimic sunlight can help SAD sufferers feel more upbeat. Dawn stimulation alarm clocks are one form of light therapy. Doctors may also suggest cognitive behavioral therapy or antidepressant medications.

Finally, massage is an excellent healing tool for SAD sufferers, especially when combined with the other healing modalities listed above. SAD tends to sap one’s energy, and many of those who experience SAD appreciate that all they need to do to enjoy relief is show up to an appointment and relax into the massage. Portland, OR massage therapists can be local “blues busters,” assuaging Seasonal Affective Disorder in the following ways.

How Massage Helps Offset SAD
Endorphin release. Massage is known to spur the brain to produce and release endorphins. These neurotransmitters are the body’s natural painkillers and mood boosters.
Stress relief. Our hectic modern way of life makes SAD even more difficult to bear. The gentle touch of a massage therapist can help melt away stress-related muscle tension. Moreover, massage reduces blood pressure, increases circulation, and removes toxins.
Serotonin increase. Serotonin is a mood regulating brain chemical. Massage augments serotonin production, which improves the patient’s mental outlook while also blocking melatonin absorbtion.
Reduced melatonin production. Melatonin is a body chemical that helps us sleep. However, too much melatonin has been connected to depression, including SAD. By balancing the endocrine system, massage may help regulate melatonin production.

Because SAD is more prevalent in northern latitudes, massage therapy schools in Oregon, Washington, and other areas Pacific Northwest have a real onus to teach students about the disorder, and how massage can help. From deep tissue massage to connective tissue massage, the therapy that’s best for the SAD sufferer is the one that feels best in his or her unique body. Massage is a powerful, drug-free way to combat SAD, especially when combined with other healing approaches such as light therapy. To experience SAD relief through massage, make an appointment today with our students or alumni massage clinic. Or, if you’re a student who’s eager to learn more about the healing power of massage, learn more about our Portland, OR massage program.