Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that typically begins in the fall or winter and lasts until the spring because of changes in sunlight. It has a wide age range and can even run in families. The winter months tend to be the worst, while the spring months bring a respite from the symptoms. Those who experience preexisting anxiety or sadness may see their symptoms intensify during this time.
Symptoms of SAD include depression, disturbed sleep, constipation, low appetite, and headaches. Because of these symptoms, it can lead to more difficulty connecting with others, leading to worsening symptoms and it continues as a vicious cycle.
Treatment In The West
In Western medicine, doctors may offer psychotherapy, phototherapy, or even prescription medications such as antidepressants. However, these solutions only address the side effects and can often lead to dependency. While day-to-day life may get easier, the root cause may get worse, leading to needing stronger medications and it can become an unbreakable trap.
How Ayurveda Can Help With SAD
Luckily, Ayurveda is a natural holistic system that understands nature very well and promotes living cyclically with the seasons. For example, when the seasons change many people prepare their home by changing out decorations, but it’s important to prepare your BODY for the change in seasons also. Fall is a time where ailments accumulate in the body that should naturally subside. Energetically speaking, autumn is a time of “fire accumulation” and winter is the season of cold and the coldness of the environment can exacerbate internal cold and dryness. For instance, if you are naturally a cold constitution like Vata, then you are more prone to amplify this and clog this channel.
With so many holidays taking place during this time, it is a period that involves lots of indulgences of sweets and sometimes drinking cold drinks. The combination of cold and sweet during this time can cause an increase in mucus, causing even more congestion, leading to the possibility of the brain not receiving enough oxygen. The combination of all of the above can lead to a lower mood. When there is too much accumulation of negative habits without any balance, this can manifest as disease.
8 Ayurvedic Tips To Help With SAD
1 – Diet
Eat a local and seasonal diet of warm foods with minimal snacking and prepackaged foods
Maintain rhythm and routine by waking, eating, and sleeping at the same time each day.
3 – Sunlight
Get 10 minutes of sun each day in the morning, preferably within one hour of waking. If there are any branches in the window blocking the sunlight, cut them down and open the window so the rays can get inside your home.
4 – Connect
Go for a walk with people you trust to increase connection and “digest” your thoughts to avoid suppressed emotions that may come out as anxiety/stress/anger.
5 – Massage
Self-massage using an appropriate oil for your constitution (sesame or almond for Vata, coconut for Pitta, mustard or sesame for Kapha) because skin is the largest organ, and there are so many pores, so when they are clogged, so are the deeper channels that lie beneath. Massaging helps to improve circulation, while also detoxifying and lubricating the channels, which strengthens the nervous system all over the body. If you don’t have time for a full-body massage, focus on the head, chest, stomach, and feet, starting at the top and working your way down. Self-massage is a great way to help build natural immunity.
6 – Nasal Cleansing
Nasal drops before bed because the nose is the entrance of the brain, so this can help with brain-related illness including hormonal, nervous system, and hair-related issues. If you don’t have nasal drops handy, use 3-5 drops of an oil that is appropriate for your constitution (warm sesame oil for Vata, warm ghee for Pitta, eucalyptus oil for Kapha)
7 – Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises can also be very helpful (Kapalabhati [breath of fire] along with cardio exercise first thing in the morning for Kapha, nadi shodhana pranayama [alternate nostril breathing] for Vata and Pitta)
8 – Rest & Relaxation
Prioritize rest and drink plenty of water in order to avoid constipation.
“Seasonal depression hits for me, like clockwork, the day after Halloween… Thanksgiving is my first warning; Christmas is my second; and New Year’s Eve is not a beginning but an end” – Dayna Evans
In Closing …
While these tips should help, they may only do so much depending on your specific circumstances. If you’re looking to improve your health with a customized protocol that may include herbs, diet, therapies etc, look no further than Ayutherapy. At Ayutherapy – Ayurveda Wellness Center, our primary purpose and mission is to heal, and heal naturally promoting harmony between mind, body, spirit and mother nature. We offer a full array of authentic Ayurveda services including consultations both in-person at our center in Danville, California or virtually.
If you are interested in learning what incorporating elements of an Ayurvedic lifestyle might do for you, then schedule a free 20 minute consultation with Vaidya Archana by clicking the button below or calling our office at 925-575-8700.
We wish you wellness…
If you are having suicidal thoughts, call 911 or 988.