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  • Lesley Heidrich

Seasonal Affective Disorder

SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, is heightened depression around a particular season. It's most commonly associated with the winter because we have the least amount of sunshine then, (especially in Chicago!) and that tends to take a toll on people. Before a treatment, I usually ask if a patient is already taking vitamin D3 and B12, and if they have had their levels checked recently. Often times an increase in these important vitamins is necessary. Alongside acupuncture and supplements, I’m also a huge fan of the SAD lamps that mimick natural sunlight. "Sun exposure" with these lamps, even for approximately 30minutes daily, can be an effective therapy for depression.

As for acupuncture, the treatment will invigorate blood and oxygen supply to the brain to lift mood, build energy, and initiate good quality sleeping habits. If a client is on medication: treatments will work with the medication, not against it. Acupuncture truly is a wonderful adjunct for therapy.

Now, in regards to non-seasonal depression... this is a little bit trickier as the root cause of depression comes from different places, and takes on many different forms. Without asking too many question and potentially overwhelming a client, I try to get to the root cause of their struggle, whether that be trauma, family, biological chemical imbalance in the brain, etc (or a combination of such). I love to talk and get to know my patients before I treat them, especially when depression is involved. Depression takes on many, many different faces, and to treat every patient the same would be a travesty.

For example, if it’s trauma that had led to severe depression I might start off with an intense anxiety treatment for a few sessions and see what the response is... and then augment the process and go from there.

I also love food therapy. Some foods, by nature, will make you lethargic and heighten depression, so avoiding those and adding in instead some brighter, healthier options can be of help. Simple stretching in the morning to increase endorphins can also be of benefit.

The Western approach of drugs and intense therapy work best for some. Pairing Western and Eastern technics work best for others. Overall though, acupuncture can be of great service for a variety of forms of depression and anxiety; and I will always do my best to help a patient find the treatment that is most suited for them.



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