Cannabis and Seasonal Affective Disorder: How CBD can help
Do you feel sad, unmotivated or lethargic as the weather starts to change and winter approaches? This may be a sign that you are experiencing symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. It’s common to experience these symptoms as the days get shorter and with cannabis and light therapy you can feel better.
What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs during the same season every year, typically in the fall and winter. Typically people see an onset of symptoms in September or October and naturally start to feel better in April or May. It is believed that changes in the amount of sunlight are the main cause of SAD, therefore, light therapy is often the main treatment source.
Common symptoms of SAD:
- Feel sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious.
- Lose interest in your usual activities.
- Eat more and crave carbs, such as bread and pasta.
- Gain weight.
- Sleep more but still feel tired.
- Have trouble concentrating.
We have talked in depth about depression, it’s symptoms and treatment here.
Treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal affective disorder affects many aspects of our daily lives which can make it challenging to engage in regular activities. The change in light can have an impact on our circadian rhythm and therefore on our sleep. And if our sleep is disrupted or our sleep schedule is changed this can impact how much natural light we are exposed to during the day.
Light exposure. We can address light exposure in two ways:
- Use of a SAD lamp. A SAD lamp is a type of light therapy where you expose yourself to light first thing in the morning to help reset your biological clock and get the benefits of sunlight. Place the lamp approximately 30cm in front of you for 30 minutes to two hours in the morning. It can be as simple as putting it on in front of you while you eat your breakfast and check your emails.
Check out these SAD lamps on Amazon.
- Consistent sleep schedule. Having a consistent sleep schedule not only helps with regular symptoms of depression but can also help you to get some exposure to natural light during the darker months. Using good sleep hygiene you can keep your schedule consistent or adjust your sleep schedule so that you are aware during the hours when it is light outside. Take advantage of this as much as possible by getting outside during light hours or having your morning coffee by the window. (note: You can also add a cannabis tincture to your morning coffee or tea)
Moderate exercise during the day is a simple thing you can do to increase your mood. This can also be a good excuse to get outside during the day. Try taking a walk at lunch or going for a bike ride.
Taking vitamin D supplements can also be helpful.
For those with moderate to severe symptoms (symptoms that are impacting one’s ability to perform normal daily functions) should consider seeking professional support from their doctor or mental health professional.
Seasonal Affective Disorder and Cannabis
Since the major symptoms of SAD are related to depression, anxiety and sleep cannabis, particularly CBD, can be a helpful treatment. Check out the article links above for more detailed information on each of these topics and how cannabis can be used to treat them.
Cannabis and CBD can be used to improve symptoms related to depression and anxiety as well as improve insomnia for a night of better sleep overall.
Best Strains for SAD
For some, the high experienced from THC can increase symptoms of anxiety. So, if you’re not an experienced cannabis user we suggest starting with strains that are high in CBD or using CBD alone. Read more about cannabis, THC, and anxiety in our article on anxiety.
Check out Leafly’s guide to the best strains for treating seasonal affective disorder.