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Combatting S.A.D., Part 1

Combatting S.A.D.: Mind, Body, & Soul

Seasonal Affective Disorder.

According to experts, about 20 percent of Americans suffer from it – a disorder that occurs at the same time every year. Generally speaking, symptoms begin in the fall and continue through the winter, but there are rare occasions when S.A.D. affects individuals in the spring or summer.

Symptoms include depression, anxiety, increase in appetite, social withdrawal, loss of energy, and decreased energy. While some cases of S.A.D. are treated with psychotherapy and medication, there are awesome alternatives our wellness experts would like to share through a three part series focusing on the mind, body and soul:

Part I: Mind
Kristen Riccardi, Elements spa therapist

    For some of us, fall and winter can prove to be a miserable time. S.A.D. can cause mood and behavioral changes due to the reduced amount of sunlight during the shortened winter days and depression, food binging, and fatigue are common symptoms that arise, too.

    One common source of relieving this disorder is “light therapy,” exposing people to daylight or a sunlight simulator. One of my favorite places to get my light therapy is at the Biosphere, Grand Cascade Lodge’s heated indoor atrium and pool, where I can soak up real rays of sunshine and get that much needed Vitamin D to keep my mind rejuvenated and healthy.

    Alternatively, massage is a great tool for supporting mental health. Since massage has been shown to reduce stress, it is tremendously helpful in coping with all depression-related illnesses. Massage affects every system in the body, one of them being the endocrine system. The endocrine system is responsible for regulating how the body releases hormones. By increasing the levels of seratonin (the feel good hormone) in the body and regulating the level of melatonin, the body has a more balance of hormones, thereby combatting the effects of winter depression and helping to restore a positive mental state.

    As for what type of massage would help balance the body the most, aromatherapy could have the largest effects. These oils can aid in stimulating the mind, invigorating the circulatory system and energizing the soul. Some great essential oil choices for uplifting the mind and spirit are any of the citrus based oils: Grapefruit, orange, tangerine, lemon, lime, and bergamot. To help with memory and increase focus, which can decrease with depression, you can use peppermint, rosemary, basil, or black pepper.

    Any type of massage is helpful for mental health, but the essential oils are very effective for helping with S.A.D. A regular monthly appointment is ideal, and in between massages, it's recommended to utilize the essential oils in a weekly hot bath if possible.

Check back next week for Part II of our series to hear from the Minerals Sports Club fitness director on the benefits of exercise to help fight S.A.D.

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