The sun begins setting a bit earlier. And as it dips down into the horizon, so does your mood. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a very common condition many people struggle with in darker, colder months. Today, we’re looking at singing bowl sound therapy as a tool for alleviating the winter blues.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD is a type of depression with symptoms that begin to appear in fall, peak during winter, and ease up when springtime hits. While the exact cause is unconfirmed, reduced sunlight is a known risk factor. You’re also more likely to endure SAD if you have a history of depression.
Reduced exposure to sunny days and more time spent inside can alter your circadian rhythm - the biological clock that determines your sleep-wake cycle. It can also affect your serotonin levels - the mood-related neurotransmitter. Low serotonin is the root cause of so much depression.
If you experience any of the following when the leaves begin to turn and the temperature begins to drop, you may have SAD:
- Fatigue/low energy
- Feelings of sadness or depression on a daily or almost-daily basis
- Troubling thoughts
- Unusual sleeping patterns
- Change of appetite - eating more or less than usual, accompanied by fluctuations in weight
- Memory loss and difficulty focusing on tasks
Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder
Any instance of depression warrants a visit to your primary care physician. Always be forthcoming with your doctor concerning any mood changes you’re experiencing; they can help you form a plan to pull through.
Many doctors prescribe a combination of medication of psychotherapy to reduce the impact SAD has on your daily life. These professional interventions provide a good foundation for things you can do in your own time to feel better.
Ways to treat SAD include:
- Light therapy - These lamps contain little to no damaging UV rays but still mimic the sun. If reduced daylight is a major contributor to your SAD, ask your doctor about lamps designed to treat seasonal depression.
- Exercise - It’s hardly what anyone struggling with depression wants to hear, but regular exercise will always be among the best natural ways to improve your mood. Plus, it can help control your weight if overeating is a feature of your SAD.
- Routine - When you’re depressed, one day blends into the next. It may be difficult to get out of bed. That’s why creating a schedule for sleeping, waking, eating, and completing daily activities can support your journey to getting back on track.
And last but not least, sound therapy may treat any instance of low mood.
Singing Bowls for SAD
A 2016 observational study from the University of California examines the effect of singing bowls on mood, pain, tension, and general wellbeing. It reinforces what other studies have found; singing bowls are a practical, effective tool for common wellness challenges. From the closing discussion:
“The tension subscale in particular displayed highly significant effects for participants post-meditation, thus providing support to the hypothesis that a sound meditation would increase feelings of relaxation and decrease feelings of stress. Additionally, depressed mood and anxiety scores on the HADS [Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale] were significantly reduced post-meditation compared with pre-meditation.”
One should also note that the effects were even greater among those participants who were just starting to delve into singing bowl meditations. So if you haven’t tried one, now is a great time to start practicing with an authentic Tibetan singing bowl.
Have you ever experienced SAD? What do you do to help? Share in the comments.