In this blog post, we will discuss five (5) Ayurvedic strategies to beat Seasonal Affective Disorder also known as SAD which affects millions worldwide. Seasonal Affective Disorder can be challenging especially during the winter months. Some people may experience symptoms such as mood swings, low energy, and even depression. If you identify with some of these symptoms during the darker winter months, then you may be experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder.
WHAT IS SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)
In Ayurveda, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is said to occur mostly in the winter months to early spring. In the United States, this would occur from October to March. This is when exposure to sunlight is limited and the days are much shorter. This coincides with the “Vata” season. According to Ayurveda, the Vata season is characterized by cold, dry, and windy weather. It’s no surprise that symptoms of an excessive Vata dosha overlap with the symptoms of SAD.
CAUSES OF SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDERS
According to Ayurveda, Seasonal Affective Disorder is caused by an imbalance in the doshas, Vata, and Kapha. The cold and limited sun during the months of October to March causes disturbances in the body and mind. The body’s natural circadian rhythm is disturbed causing various symptoms that affect one’s daily life. and we will discuss this further in this blog post.
SAD has often been referred to as the winter blues. Some people take this reference to believe that Seasonal Affective Disorder will go away once the winter months end. Well, that is not necessarily true. If untreated or steps to combat the symptoms are not taken, then SAD can persist for months to come. If you find yourself incorporating the above treatment options and not seeing changes, it’s important to consult with your healthcare provider.
SYMPTOMS OF SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Just like an imbalance in Vata, a person experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder may have feelings of anxiety or agitation. Both cause disturbances in sleep patterns. Someone may find that they have a hard time waking up in the morning while someone else may have insomnia. Both conditions affect the body’s circadian rhythms and melatonin production.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Vata imbalance according to Ayurveda, can disturb the digestive system. Both may result in changes in appetite and digestion. Individuals tend to look for comfort foods, overeat, or lose their appetite. It is not unusual to experience bloating, constipation, or irregular bowel movements under these conditions.
NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER
Ayurveda stresses the importance of balancing the doshas through lifestyle practices, light therapy, nutrition, and herbal remedies to alleviate or prevent the symptoms of SAD. Let’s explore each treatment option that you can try for yourself. Disclaimer: the information given is for informational purposes only. consult with your primary care physician for all your medical care. There is an overlap in the concepts between Ayurveda and Western medicine. Dosha imbalances in Vata and Kapha, correlate with symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorders.
AYURVEDA LIFESTYLE CHANGES TO TREAT SAD
Firstly, there are lifestyle practices that we go into depth with our clients who request our Dosha Assignment and Pulse Analysis services. We emphasize exercising regularly. Exercising at home, going for daily walks in the morning when the sun rises, or working out with a personal trainer are great options to stay on track. I’ve also given suggestions on aromatherapy oils for stress which can be very helpful. You can read the blog post titled, Aromatherapy Oils. Another suggestion is participating in things that make you happy and fulfilled every day. One thing that I do is take photos of nature during my morning walks during the winter months. Creating art brings me joy and doing this while walking outdoors at sunrise boosts positive endorphins. The images you see in this blog post were all taken during the morning hours when it was very cold and snowing.
PHOTOTHERAPY TO TREAT SAD
For individuals who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), phototherapy can be an effective treatment. Phototherapy which is also called Light Therapy, involves the exposure to bright, artificial light that resembles natural sunlight. Light therapy helps the body regulate its internal clock and helps regulate the body’s sleep-wake cycle and mood. Ultimately, the purpose is to alleviate symptoms of depression. Getting the equipment for this therapy can be simple, however, find someone in your area who provides this as a service.
Phototherapy requires a light therapy box with a SAD lamp that has at least 10,000 lux. This is the level of brightness that is needed to be effective in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. Doing this therapy in the morning is ideal to reset the body’s internal clock. The light therapy box would be placed no more than twenty-four inches from the face. Keeping the eyes open with the light directed towards the retina of the eyes is important for its effectiveness. The session would last up to thirty minutes. Doing something to pass the time such as reading or eating can be done during the thirty-minute timeframe.
NUTRITION AND HERBS TO TREAT SAD
Having proper nutrition is another way to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder. An Ayurvedic diet aimed at treating SAD focuses on balancing the doshas- Vata and Kapha. Our clients are no strangers to eating warm and nourishing foods, healthy fats, whole grains, seasonal vegetables, and warming spices. Staying hydrated with clean water and herbal teas also helps the body adapt to stress and manage symptoms of SAD. Some teas we suggest are Ashwagandha and Tulsi. You can find a recipe using Ashwagandha in our Wellness Golden Milk with Ashwagandha blog post.
PROFESSIONAL AYURVEDA SERVICES TO HELP WITH SAD
You can contact us to discuss our professional Ayurveda services. During our meeting, we will discuss this topic in greater detail and learn more about your concerns and needs. Visit the online Shop and select the services you feel fit your needs. Below are some ideas of what may meet your needs:
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