Do you suddenly feel sad, anxious and emotionally drained as the seasons change? If the answer is yes, you may be experiencing a major form of depression called SAD. 

While some people enjoy getting cosy under heavy blankets or having a nice hot chocolate by the fire, things may be different for those with a seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In most cases, they feel gloomy and jittery nearly every day. They seem to lose interest in things or activities they used to enjoy, experience trouble sleeping, or have frequent thoughts of suicide – and for some reasons, they can’t explain. 

Many anecdotal reports suggest that supplementing with CBD may help you cope with common SAD symptoms. Before you delve into the nitty-gritty of this powerful compound, it pays to have a deeper understanding of SAD first – what exactly it is and what triggers its symptoms.

A Quick Overview on Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, is a major depressive disorder related to changes in seasons. Scientists are yet to understand the real cause of SAD. However, it is believed that November (notably the “darker” months) is the dawn of the SAD season. Common signs of SAD often emerge during winter months, wherein sunlight exposure is reduced with shorter days and longer nights. These factors are said to contribute to the onset and progression of SAD.  

Sunlight is vital for overall health and wellness. It’s an effective source of vitamin D, an essential nutrient that helps keep our bones, muscles, and teeth healthy. Just a little sunshine can go a long way, governing the sleep-wake cycle, boosting the immune system, and helping to combat symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. 

On the flip side, lack of sun exposure may have a detrimental effect on how the brain functions, particularly when it comes to regulating body temperatures and releasing different types of hormones. The impact it has on the brain may lead to certain imbalances in serotonin synthesis. Serotonin is the “happiness” hormone responsible for controlling our mood, appetite and sleep-wake cycle. This partly explains the reason for experiencing dark, gloomy moods during winter. 

Moreover, inadequate sunlight increases the brain’s ability to produce melatonin, the “sleep” hormone that encourages the body to slow down and transition into a state of rest. As a result, those who suffer from SAD may experience higher levels of melatonin during winter, making them feel tired and sluggish most of the time.

Common Signs and Symptoms

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can manifest in a number of signs and symptoms, which commonly occur during late fall or early winter. In some cases, those symptoms start to vanish come spring and summer. The case for SAD  is not limited to the winter months alone. Although this case is relatively less common, some people may have the opposite pattern, which means they begin to experience symptoms during spring or summer and get better in fall or winter. Either way, symptoms may appear mild to moderate at the outset and become more severe as the season progresses.

In addition to what we’ve mentioned earlier, here are other signs and symptoms of SAD:

  • Low energy;
  • Changes in appetite; 
  • Lack of focus and concentration;
  • Hopelessness and guilt; 
  • Irritability;
  • Oversleeping;
  • Social withdrawal;
  • Physical pain and other discomforts.

Some traditional treatments for SAD symptoms may include light therapy, psychotherapy, vitamin D intake and other medications. Carry on reading if you want to learn why CBD might be a promising supplement to these treatments.   

5 Ways CBD May Help with SAD

CBD is commonly sold in a variety of forms, from CBD oil to CBD capsules, CBD gels and edibles like CBD gummies from Naturecan. Clinically known as cannabidiol, CBD is a naturally occurring compound within the cannabis plant. It is mostly derived from a cannabis variety called hemp, which contains a minimal amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In that case, CBD is not capable of creating any psychedelic effects. Instead of making you high, CBD is thought to have many potential benefits – most of which may assist in managing common SAD symptoms.   

Regulation of Endocannabinoid System

CBD may have an intriguing relationship with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a regulatory network of endocannabinoids, enzymes and receptors working together to maintain homeostasis. CBD is thought to support the ECS in controlling different physiological functions, such as mood, appetite and sleep, to help promote overall balance. 

Neuroprotection

CBD may contain natural anti-inflammatory properties, which are essential in neurocognitive development and functioning. CBD may help modulate anti-inflammatory responses within the immune cells found in the brain, reducing the risks of any damages to the brain due to inflammation.

Modulation of Serotonin Receptors 

CBD may influence the production of serotonin receptor (5-HT1A), which plays a crucial role in the perception of pain, stress, anxiety and depression. Maintaining an adequate level of serotonin in the body can help stabilise mood and reduce overactivity in the brain, which is known to be a significant root of anxiety and other mental health concerns. In addition, CBD may potentially promote a sense of calm and relaxation, which can be soothing to the mind and body. 

Modulation of Melatonin Receptors

Just as how CBD may possibly influence serotonin levels, it may also have an impact on the production of melatonin within the body. CBD is thought to work with melatonin receptors to help balance the natural sleep-wake cycle, allowing the body to switch off at night and stay alert during the daytime. 

Energy Boost

CBD may act as a wake-promoting supplement, helping you feel a boost of energy throughout the day. Aside from neutralising the melatonin levels, CBD may also influence anandamide, an endocannabinoid responsible for promoting pleasure, energy and motivation.

The Bottom Line  

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) can have a debilitating effect on your day-to-day living and overall quality of life. So if you think you are experiencing any particular SAD symptoms, it’s best to have them checked by a health professional before you even decide to incorporate CBD into your daily health regimen. CBD may offer many different potential benefits to assist in managing common signs of SAD. However, it is vital to understand that CBD is not intended to treat or medicate any physical disabilities or mental disorders. Nonetheless, you may find it possibly beneficial and highly efficient when used alongside healthy lifestyle practices and traditional treatments.