Can Physical Therapy Help Seasonal Affective Disorder? | IMPACT Physical Therapy

Can Physical Therapy Help Seasonal Affective Disorder?

A woman suffering from seasonal depression

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression thought to be caused by season changes that bring lower levels of sunlight. People who suffer from SAD typically experience symptoms at around the same time each year—and as you might expect, people living in the greater Chicago area face a higher risk than those in warmer climates. Medical professionals recommend spending more time outdoors to reduce SAD symptoms, and research has shown that movement may also have positive effects.

Whether spending more time outdoors hasn’t helped you feel better—or chronic pain makes it difficult to get moving in the first place—you may have wondered if physical therapy can help seasonal affective disorder symptoms. In this guide, we’ll explore SAD symptoms, the most common causes of seasonal affective disorder, and your options for treating SAD with physical therapy.

Common Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Typically, SAD symptoms emerge at the start of fall when daylight hours and sunlight levels dip lower, and continue through the winter months. Here are a few points to keep in mind about why low sunlight levels cause seasonal affective disorder symptoms:

  • Exposure to sunlight is thought to boost the production of serotonin, a hormone that boosts mood and focus.
  • Low light absorption during the day can interrupt your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle.
  • If issues with chronic pain prevent you from going outside, you’re even more likely to experience the common causes of seasonal affective disorder.

Are You Experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Anyone can experience the most common causes of seasonal affective disorder, and it’s likely that you’ll have a bout of winter blues at least once over the course of your lifetime. Treating SAD with physical therapy begins with recognizing the symptoms. You might be dealing with SAD if you:

  • Feel sad, anxious, moody, or unusually fatigued during the winter months.
  • Have lost interest in activities you used to enjoy.
  • Have been consuming more calories than normal, especially carbohydrates.
  • Can’t fall asleep or keep waking up during the night.
  • Are having trouble with focus, memory, and concentration.

Treating SAD With Physical Therapy

Medical professionals agree that physical activity is a powerful tool for boosting your mood—but while getting out and about to reduce your SAD symptoms sounds simple, it’s easier said than done if you’re dealing with chronic pain. 

Physical therapy exercises can relieve pain, improve mobility, and help people to recover from injury. So, can physical therapy help seasonal affective disorder? Yes! By treating SAD with physical therapy, you’ll be able to move with less pain and spend more time outdoors to improve your mood.

Beat SAD This Winter With IMPACT Physical Therapy

You can find IMPACT Physical Therapy locations in Chicago and the southwest suburbs—from the South Loop and Lakeview to Hinsdale and Orland Park—and our experienced physical therapists are ready to help today! Request an appointment today to speak with a licensed physical therapist about whether treating SAD with physical therapy could be the right path for you.