With daylight savings time (almost) officially upon us and the days becoming increasingly shorter, many people are susceptible to mild symptoms of depression. Along with a depressed mood, one can experience irritability, headaches, extreme fatigue and lethargy, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, an inability to concentrate, and decreased libido. These set of symptoms form a condition commonly referred to as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD affects over ten million people in the United States each year, two-thirds of which are female. While the true cause is not known according to western medicine, it is thought that decreased melatonin levels arising from the limited exposure to sunlight in the winter are involved. Other factors that may contribute to SAD include genetics, hormones and stress. For those who do experience the symptoms of depression once fall and winter kick in to full force and would prefer to treat it naturally, there are a number of good options to consider (other than acupuncture, of course).
Michael A. Sassack is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago.