Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can be more intense than just the normal ”winter blues” that many experience. It has been legitimized by the National Institute of Health and American Psychological Association as a documented mood disorder. The criteria for diagnosing SAD are; significant changes in mood leading to depression during a particular time of year, a remission of mood changes and depression during a particular time of year, patterns that have occurred for at least two years with no major depressive episodes outside of winter months, and must outnumber other depressive episodes throughout a person’s lifetime.
People suffering from SAD can have increased stress and anxiety and elevated feelings of hopelessness. The lack of sunlight can make them want to sleep for longer periods of time and become lethargic. They can have lower energy, motivation and concentration. The extreme depression can cause them to avoid social situations for fear of rejection. People with this disorder can also have increased cravings for sweets and carbohydrates leading to weight gain.
There is no “cure” for SAD but there are several treatment options. When used in combination, they can help alleviate symptoms. Because of the decrease in in the “feel good” hormone serotonin, antidepressants such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are often prescribed. People who are reluctant to risk the side effects of antidepressants may seek alternative treatments.
Full-spectrum light therapy is often used in the treatment of SAD. The bulbs or light boxes trick the pineal gland into thinking that it is daylight and helps the regulation of serotonin and melatonin. Good nutrition and regular exercise can also help with SAD symptoms.
Massage helps put the nervous system in the parasympathetic mode rather than the sympathetic, also known as “fight or flight”. This is great for relaxation and a sense of well-being. Massage can help circulation by manually moving blood and lymph fluid, which also boosts immunity. It is also thought to release endorphins, the same chemicals that bring about the “runner’s high” during exercise. A calming massage session can lower heart rate and blood pressure thus reducing feelings of anxiety. People who suffer from severe depression often have muscle aches and pains. Massage can help to relieve these symptoms.
The previous statements are a consensus of several articles I have read about the benefits of Massage for people suffering from SAD. They may not necessarily seem specific to SAD but health in general. Being in good health makes it easier to deal with symptoms of depression. After thirteen years of both giving and receiving massages, I don’t need “scientific proof” to tell me that massage just makes you feel good.

Author's Bio: 

Shelly Sparks has been involved in the Healthcare field in one capacity or another for more than twenty years.Born under a nurturing sign, she has wanted to help people "feel better" since childhood.Currently she practices Massage Therapy in Columbus, Ohio and surrounding areas. She is also a certified Reiki master.