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Feeling a little down, or even really down lately? Have you found yourself loading up on carbohydrates, and staying in bed later? Maybe a sense of blah that you just cannot seem to shake? Sounds like you might be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to Mental Health America, SAD affects four out of five Americans every year- particularly women aged twenty to thirty. SAD saps your energy, leaving you feeling lethargic. Many sufferers report losing interest in daily activities—and even special occasions seem to lack their normal luster. In some cases SAD can result in severe mood changes, feelings of guilt, anxiety and social-anxiety.

Luckily, there are some great treatment options you can discuss with your doctor. The Mayo Clinic reports that many sufferers of SAD utilize phototherapy—purposefully exposing themselves to moderate or intense light—to help improve their mood and kick their sadness. Frequent exercise may help to alleviate some of the symptoms by improving sleep and alleviating other underlying health conditions.

Relaxation Massage

While phototherapy and exercise can be very beneficial to combating the symptoms of SAD, also consider receiving a relaxation based massage. Relaxation massage, also known as Swedish massage, utilizes longer strokes to help ease the body into a state of peaceful bliss. While all forms of massage offer relaxation to the body, Swedish has a well documented history of helping bodies let go of tension, anxiety, pain and, even depression. Swedish helps to release endorphins—the feel good chemicals the brain utilizes when in physical or emotional pain. Its long and gentle strokes ease the nervous system and the tension that might be hiding in your muscles.

Massage has other benefits to SAD patients. SAD often results in less energy—making it difficult to do anything but daily and mundane tasks. Massage does not require that you expend any energy, except in making your way to the treatment table. After the initial interview with the massage therapist, the client is invited to take a passive role in their treatment. They are invited to lay on a nicely warmed table in clean linens, and let the therapist do all the work. In addition, the relaxing environment created in most massage treatment rooms adds an extra layer of physical unwinding. Imagine, letting someone else nurture your health while you listen to calm music and drift in and out of sleep.

Sleep Cycle

While we’re on the topic, lets discuss sleep and Seasonal Affective Disorder. One of the major factors in SAD is the disruption of a healthy sleep cycle. Insomnia at night, with feelings of lethargy during the day, are symptoms common in the disorder. One of massage’s biggest benefits is improved sleep! Getting a full night of rest can have a positive impact on all forms of depression, even seasonal. One more reason to get on the table for a little relief from the winter-blues.

More importantly, science agrees that massage can improve depression! One study, “Treatment Effects of Massage Therapy in Depressed People: A Meta Analysis” looked at most of the major research performed on massage for depression. In every study, massage helped to alleviate moderate to severe depression. So, receiving routine massage can result in an improvement in quality of life for sufferers of SAD.

Here’s what you can do…

If you’re interested in seeing if massage can help with your winter-blues, there are some factors to consider. It’s important to talk to your medical doctor about any long-term depression you might be feeling—or any new therapies you’d like to try. While massage is safe for everyone to receive, it’s best used in conjunction with other treatments. Also, make sure you find a massage therapist who fits your needs. Comfort on the massage table achieves the best results when receiving a treatment. So, find a licensed massage therapist you feel comfortable with. Make sure they can answer any questions you might have about the treatment, or refer you to other sources for more answers.

One such resource you can utilize is the American Massage Therapy Association. You can find their websibe at www.amtamassage.org. The AMTA has a multitude of searchable research articles and other resources accessible to anyone. Or, you can call the clinic here at Lexington Healing Arts Academy at (859) 252-5656. LHAA has been providing safe, comfort based touch for nearly two-decades and is full of professionals with answers to all your questions. Feel free to give us a call, and we can help you book the best massage for you.

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