Can Acupuncture Treat SAD?

In 1958 rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran recorded a smash hit called “Summertime Blues.” So, what are exactly are the summertime blues? Is there a cure for them?

Many of you are familiar with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) where sufferers experience a lack of energy and depression in response to winter’s cold weather and absence of light. To accommodate to longer nights, the body produces higher levels of melatonin over an extended period of time. Melatonin is a hormone that promotes sleep. If you are producing too much melatonin, you may have trouble waking up. Additionally, winter’s darkness reduces serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced in the pineal gland that is associated with feelings of wellbeing.

Summertime depression or Summertime Season Affective Disorder is a different matter. If the onset of summer marks the beginning of insomnia, sleep deprivation, loss of appetite and interest in food, weight loss and an uptick in feelings of anxiety, agitation and inappropriate anger, you could be suffering from summertime depression or summertime SAD. A hallmark of this disorder is the return of symptoms every year in the late spring or early summer.

Summer SADFSummertime seasonal affective disorder is a bit of a puzzle. It may be related to over exposure to sunlight and heat. Some scientists believe that excessive amounts of light lead to the underproduction of melatonin (due to the extra long days.) Summertime SAD is marked by a loss of the bodies’ attuning to the cycles of day and night (circadian rhythm dysregulation.) Dysregulation makes sleep difficult. Sleep deprivation can lead to irritability and depression.

Others theorize that seasonal allergies create a host of immune system responses including inflamed respiratory airways, a loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.

How does Five Element Acupuncture help overcome summertime SAD?

There are many energetic imbalances that underlie SAD. For example, entry exit problems, in which energy is supposed to move from one meridian to the next, but does not, are commonly found with sleep disorders. Five Element Acupuncture addresses the energetic patterns that underlie SAD. Acupuncture balances the endocrine, nervous and digestion systems and regulates your body clock and sleep cycle.

Self Help for Summertime Seasonal Affective Disorder

  1. Maintain a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed and wake up at a reasonable hour, the same time every day.
  2. Eat regular meals at regular times. Have moderate portions and include adequate protein. Avoid excess of carbohydrates.
  3. Get regular exercise. Aerobic activity has been shown to be helpful in combating depression.
  4. Reduce your exposure to sun and heat. It’s a no-brainer. If the sun increases your symptoms, seek shelter.
  5. Purchase a premium air cleaner to help manage respiratory allergies and promote sleep. Medical grade HEPA filter will remove pollen and airborne irritants from the air.  Your immune system gets respite, respiratory symptoms diminish and you will get more restful sleep.

The contents in this article are not meant to be diagnostic or prescriptive. Anxiety, depression and SAD are often complex and a physician should always be consulted before choosing a course of treatment.