The celebrations and festivities of Christmas are almost upon us and the Winter season is very much upon us with shortened days, cold, snow, icy rain and lack of sunshine. When the seasons change as many as 1 in 5 people can suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which is a type of depression that is related to changes in the seasons. The symptoms often begin in the autumn as the days get shorter and are often most severe in December, January and February.
Sunlight is vital to our mental health because it helps to release Endorphins in the body and to regulate Melatonin. These two hormones give people their sense of physical and emotional well being. SAD is believed to be caused by the decrease in hours of daylight, lack of sun and vitamin D.
Symptoms Of Sad:
- A persistent low mood
- A loss of pleasure
- Feeling lethargic
- Sleeping for longer Craving carbohydrates and weight gain
- The Effect Of Light: When light hits the back of the eye, messages are sent to the brain which then control sleep, appetite, temperature, mood and activity. If there is a reduction in the amount of light which is hitting the back of the eye then these physiological functions will start to slow down.
- Research has found that some people seem to need a lot more light than others and consequently are more likely to develop symptoms of SAD.
- Low Seratonin Levels: People experiencing clinical depression have been found to have low levels of Seratonin particularly in the winter months.
- High Melatonin Levels: When it is dark the brain produces the hormone Melatonin which helps us to get to sleep at night. As morning approaches Melatonin gradually stops being produced due to the increasing levels of daylight and we then naturally wake up.
- It has been found by researchers that people with symptoms of SAD produce much higher levels of Melatonin in the winter. (This is also something which happens to animals when they hibernate during the winter.
Massage and the use of Essential Oils can alleviate stress, tension and depression by stimulating the circulatory system which can help with the release of mood boosting hormones like serotonin. With decreased activity levels for many people during the winter months the circulatory benefits also help with increasing energy and immunity levels.
Citrus essential oils such as Lemon (citrus limonum), Mandarin (citrus reticulata), Grapefruit (citrus paradisi) can be emotionally up lifting whilst the Wood oils such as frankincense (boswellia carteri) and Sandlewood (santalum album) will bring strength and grounding. The Spice oils such as Cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum Fol) ) bring warmth and energy, whilst the floral oils such as Geranium (pelargonium graveolens) are nurturing and comforting.
A regular Aromatherapy massage treatment can be extremely nurturing and replenishing during the dark days of Winter. Remember that for most people who are affected by SAD they report that their mood starts to lift once the seasons move into the Spring.
Please contact me if you would like any further information about aromatherapy using essential oils.
Jackie – 07969044884