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Do complementary therapies help with seasonal depression?

A young woman sits in a window ledge, looking morosely outside at the grey winter weather

We all have times of the year that we prefer more than others, yet for some of us, as the weather changes, so too do our energy levels, sleeping and eating habits. If you find you are feeling particularly low during a specific season or time of year annually, it could be a sign that you are experiencing SAD, or ‘seasonal depression’

Common symptoms can include 

  • a persistent low mood or loss of enjoyment in your regular pastimes
  • feelings of stress, anxiety, or irritability 
  • changing eating (increased or decreased) habits
  • feeling tearful or sad without a clear reason
  • decreased or loss of self-esteem or libido 
  • feeling sleepy or lethargic during the day, or being less active than typical 
  • difficulty getting up or sleeping for longer than usual

Most commonly experienced by those aged 18-30, our seasonal light changes and dark, gloomy weather can all be contributing factors towards more and more of us reporting symptoms of SAD. If you think you may be experiencing SAD, it’s important to speak with your GP to help find the optimal treatment option for you. CBT, talking therapy and antidepressants can all help to combat symptoms of SAD. Optimising what you eat and ensuring you are getting enough nutrients can help to combat the symptoms of SAD, whilst some who experience it report hypnotherapy has helped them.

If you are looking for a complementary, holistic form of therapy that can help combat the symptoms of seasonal depression, there are a variety of options that can help.

Meditation and positivity 

Reiki teacher Edyta recommends increasing your exercise, practising positivity, and trying meditation. “Studies have shown meditation and facing daily life with a positive outlook can effectively increase serotonin naturally. Regular meditation is also known to increase the body’s levels of other important mood-enhancing neurochemicals. It is safe, easy to do, and its positive effects can be immediately felt.”  

Close-up of a hand as someone meditates

Aromatherapy

Designed to treat the whole body, aromatherapy can help with healing, rest and recovery. Typically working through smell and skin absorption, if you haven’t tried it before, essential oils can be a good place to start as they can help lift your mood and increase your energy levels. Discover different ways you can use essential oils to help feel more relaxed and calm, or energized and invigorated. 

Forest bathing

Forest bathing has become more popular in recent years, with many reporting a decrease in feelings of stress, anxiety and depression after spending time in nature. By spending more time outside, natural sunlight can help trigger mood stabilising hormones, helping us to feel more positive. Taking forest walks can also be a gentle way to increase your exercise and activity levels. Regular exercise has shown to have positive mood-boosting effects for those with mild to moderate depression. If you struggle to fit in your recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, try these exercise inspirations you can fit into your daily routine.

An inviting forest path is illuminated with light

Light therapy

Mimicking natural sunlight, just 30 minutes of light therapy may help with SAD. Significantly brighter than most lights, you can buy specific light therapy lamps, alarm clocks, or lightbulbs. These can help stimulate your body’s circadian rhythms and suppress your natural release of melatonin. 

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Bonnie Evie Gifford

Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford

Bonnie Evie Gifford is a Senior Writer at Happiful.

Written by Bonnie Evie Gifford

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