If you live in the Greater Vancouver area then you can already see the change in weather as September gives way to autumn and edges closer to winter. The days get shorter and the sun seemingly refuses to break through the blanket of clouds, and with this comes the blues for many people. For some, the blues come in deeper, darker hues, with symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) coming to surface with the climate’s transition. Light therapy is the main form of treatment for SAD, and some medicines, health supplements, and counselling may also be prescribed, but there is one often overlooked strategy to alleviating the symptoms of SAD – physiotherapy. Let’s find out how.
4 Reasons Why Physiotherapy May Help Ease the Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Massage Therapy’s Proven Benefits for SAD
Massage therapy is a major component of physiotherapy, and the discipline has been proven to counteract physiological mood factors that typically accompany SAD. The benefits of massage therapy for those suffering SAD include the following:
- Can increase neurotransmitters associated with lowering anxiety, including serotonin and dopamine.
- Can decrease hormones associated with increasing anxiety, including cortisol levels.
- Can notably decrease heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure commonly associated with seasonable anxiety.
Exercise and Muscle Building Helps Combat SAD
Core fitness and carefully guided exercise are also a major part of physiotherapy. HealthLinkBC explicitly states that when it comes to SAD treatment, regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself. They suggest walking (be sure to check your Gait), bike riding (be sure to get fitted), swimming (how physio helps), and any safe physical activity that improves your heart rate. They also suggest performing these activities outdoors. We have provided a guide to physio-friendly outdoor activities in Greater Vancouver that can certainly help those living with symptoms of SAD.
Can Help You Get a Better Night’s Sleep
You may associate SAD with laying around in bed all day, but this does not mean you’re getting a good sleep. In fact, the more feelings of stress and anxiety associated with SAD, the worse your sleep will be. Once again physiotherapy can be of assistance. Physiotherapy can help ease the other ailments that interrupt sound sleeping patterns, including chronic pain along with stiff muscles and joints upon waking. In addition, physiotherapy helps treat women’s health related sleep problems – something that is especially important when you consider studies show that women are more likely to experience problems sleeping AND they are more commonly afflicted with SAD than men. View more on how physiotherapy can address women’s health concerns that may otherwise compound symptoms of SAD, and how physiotherapy is employed to improve your sleep.
Can Reduce the Need for (and risk associated with) Prescription Solutions
You already know that prescription drugs such as opioids are being over-prescribed for pain management. But did you know that your local pharmacist may also encourage you to take opioids to modulate stress-associated behavior (including SAD) too? It doesn’t matter what you take opioids and other similar prescription medications for, there is an inherent risk to your physical and mental health that we have already addressed in great detail. View more on how physiotherapy can replace the dangerous use of opioids not only for pain management, but for treatment of SAD stress and anxiety too.
If you have any further questions about how physiotherapy can be leveraged to improve your overall health during this unfortunate (for many) seasonal transition we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Absolute PhysioCare right away. Don’t let another SAD day pass without getting the help you need.
For additional resources to help you combat seasonal affective disorder, please reference this HealthLinkBC guide.