What is S.A.D.?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is the fall and winter month blues. You might feel sad for no apparent reason and lose interest in activities. Your energy is low, and you feel like a slug wanting to sleep away the day. You may go on eating binges, especially those unhealthy sweets and carbs or overeat and gain weight which only adds to your feeling of hopelessness. You feel guilty because you can’t concentrate and just feel downright worthless!
What causes S.A.D.?
S.A.D. is also known as “winter depression” and it can affect anyone. It usually starts as the days get shorter and exposure to sunlight is reduced. Sunlight has an affect on our brain’s chemicals and hormones which are needed to stimulate our brain’s hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls our mood, appetite and sleep and affect how we feel. Lack of sunlight can affect melatonin production (sleep), serotonin productions (mood) and the body’s internal clock.
What is one of the risk factors?
One risk factor of S.A.D. is low level of Vitamin D. Vitamin D boosts serotonin activity but with less sunlight and not getting the proper Vitamin D from foods and other sources, that can create a Vitamin D deficiency. Supplementing with an absorbable Vitamin D supplement is recommended.
What part does the brain play in S.A.D.?
The hypothalamus is the center for the limbic system of the brain. This system provides high level processing of sensory information. It provides a variety of functions including emotion, behavior, long-term memory, and olfaction (smell). It also controls body temperature, hunger, fatigue, sleep, and circadian rhythms. It responds to light for regulating the circadian and seasonal rhythms, olfactory stimuli including pheromones.
The hypothalamus works with the pituitary gland to tell other endocrine glands to make hormones to support your overall health like the pineal gland. This gland releases the hormone of melatonin for sleep and the hormone serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood, happiness and anxiety and controls your sleeping and waking. When your serotonin levels are normal, you feel more focused, emotionally stable, happier, and calmer.
All emotions are stored in the Limbic region of the brain. When we breathe though the olfactory system(nose) it travels to the amygdala portion of the brain creating an emotional response.
The Journal of Medical Science has proven that smell can and does produce thought. Essential oils can communicate with your brain for the purpose of supporting positive emotions and releasing negative thought patterns.
How can Aromatherapy benefit S.A.D. symptoms?
The naturally occurring pheromones in essential oils trigger olfactory (smell) receptors in the limbic part of the brain. A review published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that aromatherapy may help alleviate depressive symptoms.
It is important to AVOID products made with artificial or synthetic fragrances. Essential oils that have been adulterated will not offer the same benefit as pure essential oils and may be harmful. I ONLY recommend Young Living essential oils due to their SEED to SEAL process they require on all their essential oils and essential oil infused personal care and supplemental products.
Which essential oils are best for S.A.D.?
In 1955 Mie University study found that citrus fragrances boosted immunity, induced relaxation, and reduced depression. Citrus essential oils are cold pressed from the rind and not the fruit itself.
Citrus essential oils include lemon, grapefruit, lime, orange, tangerine, and bergamot.
Jasmine is an absolute extraction from the flower. It is an “essence” and not an essential oil and is used for anxiety, depression, and listlessness.
Other essential oils that are supportive to mood are, sandalwood, ylang-ylang, clary sage, basil, rose, geranium, lavender, and chamomile.
Some essential oil blends containing some of these single oils are joy, abundance, awaken, harmony and inner child to name a few.
If you know you are prone to S.A.D. symptoms or experience full blown S.A.D. this time of year, now is the time to prepare with the upcoming time change. UGH! There are other non-drug options available that you can add to your essential oil aromatherapy as well. Light therapy has shown to have great results in combatting S.A.D. symptoms and don’t forget your Vitamin D!
I hope you have found this blog informative and supportive. Understanding S.A.D. and taking control beforehand has helped me avoid the struggles associated with S.A.D.
You can find the above-mentioned Vitamin D and the essential oils HERE
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