CBD and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid systems through CBD receptors, affecting various functions throughout our bodies in many ways we still do not fully understand. While there appears to be no concrete evidence on CBD and its effectiveness in treating SAD specifically, it is known for – at least anecdotally – its ability to help users with depression, anxiety and regulating sleep, three common symptoms of SAD. . Use the links below to jump to the relevant section.

  1. What is SAD?
  2. SAD Symptoms
  3. Treating SAD
  4. CBD and SAD

What is SAD?

The psychological disorder known as the seasonal affective disorder or SAD is not a mere play on words and acronyms. It is an actual psychological disorder, a form of depression that is connected to the changes in the seasons. Generally, SAD occurs during autumn and throughout the winter season and is less common during spring or early summer.

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The exact cause (or set of causes) of SAD is not known. However it is usually associated with a lack of sunlight and vitamin D deficiency. Sufferers tend to produce higher levels of the sleep hormone melatonin during winter because of the low light exposure.

Tromsø in Norway, a town in Norway where the sun does not rise between November to January. Photo by Ludovic Charlet 

SAD Symptoms

According to the NHS, symptoms of SAD can include:

  • a persistent low mood
  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities
  • irritability
  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness
  • feeling lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day
  • sleeping for longer than normal and finding it hard to get up in the morning
  • craving carbohydrates and gaining weight

For some people, these symptoms can be severe and have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities. The NHS also state: “You should consider seeing your GP if you think you might have SAD and you’re struggling to cope.” Your GP can carry out an assessment to check your mental health. They may ask you about your mood, lifestyle, eating habits and sleeping patterns, plus any seasonal changes in your thoughts and behaviour. You can read more about diagnosing SAD here.

Treating SAD

“The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that SAD should be treated in the same way as other types of depression.”

Other common methods include antidepressant medication, vitamin D therapy / supplements and counselling. Things you can try yourself include:

  • try to get as much natural sunlight as possible – even a brief lunchtime walk can be beneficial
  • make your work and home environments as light and airy as possible
  • sit near windows when you’re indoors
  • take plenty of regular exercise, particularly outdoors and in daylight – read more about exercise for depression
  • eat a healthy, balanced diet
  • if possible, avoid stressful situations and take steps to manage stress

CBD and SAD

CBD interacts with our endocannabinoid systems through CBD receptors, affecting various functions throughout our bodies in many ways we still do not fully understand. While there appears to be no concrete evidence on CBD and its effectiveness in treating SAD specifically, it is known for – at least anecdotally – its ability to help users with depression, anxiety and regulating sleep, three common symptoms of SAD.

2010 study indicated the effect of CBD on social anxiety. The brain scans of participants showed changes in blood flow in areas of the brain that are associated with anxiety. Findings in 2014 indicated that CBD also has antidepressant properties. A case study published in 2016 showed the positive effect of CBD on treating pediatric anxiety and insomnia. The child was able to sleep well when treated with CBD.

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In addition, low doses of CBD seem to promote wakefullness. This is one of the reasons our CBD infused coffee beans have earned several 5-star reviews from our customers ,as a small dose of CBD further compliments the energising effects of coffee.