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Massage: The Best Complementary Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Massage: The Best Complementary Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Rebekah Delling

Massage: The Best Complementary Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder?*


Do you suffer from the winter blues? You are not alone. Our body’s biology urges us to curl up in a ball and sleep away the snowy months. Unfortunately, most of us lead a hectic lifestyle that doesn’t include time for hibernation.

However, if your winter blues last for months or recurs every year, you may be one of the many Americans suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a form of depression triggered by lack of light in the wintertime. It occurs more frequently in women than men and between 6 to 8 percent of people in the United States experience symptoms severe enough to seek treatment.  Many more remain undiagnosed or suffer from a less debilitating form of the disorder.

A diagnosis of SAD is usually made if patients experience more than one of the following symptoms, depression (for more than a few days, weeks or even months), trouble sleeping, lethargy, overeating, irritability, loss of libido and a weakened immune system.

Fortunately there are many treatment options available. Light therapy is the most common and is 85% effective in most cases, according to the SADA. But treatments work best when combined with alternate therapies and exercise.

Massage and SAD

Massage may be the best choice of alternate therapies for SAD sufferers. Why? Because massage doesn’t require much effort on the part of the recipient. Once the appointment is made, the recipient just needs to show up and climb onto a table. From that point on, he or she can relax and let the therapist do all the work. Many massage therapists will even make house calls.

But how does massage help SAD sufferers? Massage alleviates the symptoms of SAD in a variety of ways. First of all, massage releases endorphins, which creates a euphoric feeling and fights depression. Massage also lowers the recipient’s blood pressure, improves circulation, positively stimulates the nerve endings, removes toxins and improves energy and concentration. By receiving regular massages, at least two a month, the SAD sufferer will experience less intense symptoms and will regain a more positive and healthy perspective on life.


Buford, Darren. “House of Blues: Beating Seasonal Affective Disorder.”,. 2003. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.

SADA. Seasonal Affective Disorder Association, 2010. Web. 30 Nov. 2010.

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