Seasonal Affective Disorder and Massage Therapy

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Massage Therapy

Kelsey O’Leary, LMT, NASM-CPT Licensed Massage Therapist
Therapeutic Associates Physical Therapy – SE Boise


Thanksgiving is here and it is time to outwardly show our thanks for everyone and everything in our lives. That includes the shorter days and colder nights, right? Uh, right? Depression, lethargy and a weakened immune system can really plague a lot of people during the wintertime. This leaves us struggling to improve our mood, energy level and fight the flu season.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is recognized as a major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns. A less severe form of seasonal mood disorder, the winter blues, impacts a larger portion of the population. Combined, the two disorders affect as many as 1 in 5 Americans. They may also worsen with the change to daylight saving time. Symptoms include reduced energy, difficulty rising in the morning and a tendency to eat more, especially sweets and starches.

How Massage Therapy Can Help

Massage therapy is a great way to reduce those winter time blues while giving your immune and circulatory system a happy boost at the same time. A growing body of research has shown that integrating massage into a person’s health maintenance routine has had beneficial effects on their anxiety, depression, circadian rhythms, immune system and serotonin levels (long-term effects).  In particular, serotonin works to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, memory and learning.

Every year, the flu season seems to increase in packing a wallop to our immune systems. Massage therapy increases the activity level of the body’s white blood cells that work to combat viruses. According to research from Cedars-Sinai, participants in a Swedish massage group had significant changes in lymphocytes. These play a large role in defending the body from disease.

So, show your body the “thanks” it deserves by “giving” it the massage it needs!

Note: Massage therapy should NOT be used to cure or treat any ailment.  Always check with your doctor before receiving massage work.  It is not recommended to receive massage when you are not healthy. 


  1. Targum SD, Rosenthal N. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2008;5(4):31-33.
  2. Mark Hyman Rapaport, Pamela Schettler, and Catherine Bresee. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. October 2010, 16(10): 1079-1088. Doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0634
  3. American Massage Therapy Association: Massage Therapy Can Help Reduce Winter Blues

American Massage Therapy Association: Massage Therapy May Boost Immune System Functionin

Link to original article below.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Massage Therapy

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