In the clinic this time of year we often hear from our patients about wanting help for their" seasonal depression." Many people feel a sense of depression in the Fall vs. other times of the year. Perhaps you are one of them. If so, this article may help.
As you've probably read before in one of our articles, Chinese cosmology places great importance on each season and its impact on our health. There are also 5 seasons in Chinese reckoning--Spring, Summer, Late Summer, Fall, and Winter. Each season not only has a pathogenic environmental factor that impacts us (e.g. summer heat, dampness, cold, etc.), but also there is a literal, physical movement associated with each.
For example, the movement of Spring is "up, and out". We see this with the sprouts of plants coming up from the soil. You may also notice a little more pep in your step in Spring. This is due to the movement of Spring which affects everyone, and everything in the hemisphere that is currently experiencing Spring.
In Fall, which is the polar opposite of Spring, the movement is--you guessed it--"down, and in". When I think of the season of Fall I can't help but think of the movie Saving Private Ryan. Sounds strange I know, but bear with me. There is a scene when the Ryan brothers' Mom is in her kitchen and she sees a cab approach. She goes to the porch to see who it is, and when she sees the priest step out of the cab she instantly knows that something major is wrong with one or more of her sons who are off to war. What happens when she sees the priest? She immediately collapses to the floor of her porch on her backside. Why?
You may be familiar with the expression "are you sitting down?" before delivering bad news--this is because when someone experiences very strong, acute grief the automatic movement of that emotion is down, and in--just like Private Ryan's Mom. Just like the season Fall. In fact, each season has an emotion associated with it because of matching movements or resonance--hence, grief and Fall are considered the same thing. Autumn is Nature's grief, her activity of letting go.
This same resonance of "down, and in" in Autumn is impacting us all whether we are aware of it or not. This is a natural consequence of the season we're in. I find that it helps others and myself if I'm even aware of this fact, and can counter any negative narrative I might make about why I feel the way I do. Of course the reduction of sunlight and colder air plays a part too, which is why it's important to keep up with our vitamin D, and stay warm.
Eat some yummy stews, snuggle up and reflect, and fall in love with Fall all over again...knowing now that the "down, and inward" feeling is as natural as the goldening of leaves, and their lilting on the breeze.
Anahita Seyedan D.O.M
Practicing Integrative Medicine