The short winter days and longer, darker nights have a more significant impact on some people than others. If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, CBD might be the natural remedy you’ve been looking for to lift you out of that funk.
What is seasonal affective disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depressive disorder that follows a seasonal pattern. Environmental changes that come in the wake of autumn and winters can deeply affect some people, especially those with a history of depression.
The changing of the seasons and the amount of sunlight during the day can disturb the body’s innate circadian rhythm, also known as your biological clock. This, in turn, can affect your sleep-wake cycle, energy levels, and even hormone levels. Serotonin and melatonin are particularly vulnerable to environmental changes during the fall season, which can trigger the onset of SAD.
SAD symptoms include:
- Low mood throughout the day
- Loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Low energy
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Appetite changes
- Weight loss or gain
- Decreased concentration and attention
- Feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness
- Social withdrawal
Using CBD to address symptoms of SAD
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a phytocannabinoid compound extracted from the cannabis sativa plant. Its chemical composition is almost the same as that of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the other well-known phytocannabinoid found in cannabis. Unlike THC, however, cannabidiol does not produce psychoactive effects.
Your body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS) takes care of important functions such as appetite, sleep, pain sensitivity, and immune system responses. Your ECS receptors are located throughout your brain and central nervous system, and your body produces its own cannabinoids, which are called endocannabinoids.
Studies show that CBD cannabinoids interact with your ECS receptors as if they were your own. These CBD cannabinoids are actually known as phytocannabinoids, but they have the same effect in activating bodily responses and providing relief from pain, inflammation, and anxiety. CB1 receptors are primarily located in the brain, while CB2 receptors are more in the peripheral tissues. Accordingly, CBD can have beneficial effects on various mental processes, including memory, thoughts, and emotions.
Many people now claim that CBD is the best antidepressant for seasonal affective disorder and find it an ideal natural alternative to pharmaceutical antidepressants. Research shows that CBD provides anxiolytic and mood-boosting benefits that can help you overcome the symptoms of SAD.
So, how can CBD help with symptoms of SAD?
CBD may relieve anxiety and panic attacks
Although much of the evidence so far is anecdotal, it appears that CBD is effective in helping manage anxiety. Studies conducted in animals support this conclusion, with one review of 32 different rodent studies showing that CBD was beneficial in 99% of results.
Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter associated with mood and sleep patterns and has at least 14 different receptors. CBD binds to a receptor called 5-HT1A, which is believed to play a major role in anxiety disorders. CBD also helps reduce anxiety caused by stress. When test subjects were put in stressful situations such as public speaking, CBD was found to improve performance anxiety both for people with and without anxiety disorders. There may also be positive benefits in using CBD for panic attacks.
CBD can lift depression
Several studies have suggested that CBD has a positive influence on serotonin receptors in the brain. Because serotonin is closely tied with emotional state and happiness, maintaining healthy levels of this neurotransmitter is often an effective means of managing depression.
So far, animal studies show CBD can be a useful antidepressant and antianxiety agent, with some researchers noting that short- or long-term use is effective. CBD was also shown to work without directly activating the brain’s endocannabinoid receptors. This may reduce the risk of the brain becoming dependent on CBD, which can happen with some pharmaceutical drugs.
CBD helps promote healthy sleep patterns
Our sleep-wake cycle is largely regulated by melatonin. Melatonin is low during the daylight hours, and peaks in darkness. During the winter days, low sunlight exposure disrupts the pineal gland and the process of melatonin production can get out of balance.
CBD may help to regulate sleep patterns by relieving anxiety and inducing a state of calm, which helps with falling asleep and staying asleep. Some sources suggest that it activates CB1 receptors in a way that reduces the time taken to fall asleep while also improving sleep stability and boosting overall melatonin production. CBD oil also helps to lower levels of cortisol, the ‘stress’ hormone that keeps you alert. By reducing cortisol, CBD oil can help the body and mind relax and allow you to fall asleep more easily.
CBD reduces fatigue
Fatigue is a common symptom of seasonal affective disorder, which may be due to overproduction of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that causes us to feel sleepy when we’re in darkness. Because winter days are darker, melatonin production increases and, as a result, a SAD sufferer will be left feeling exhausted and lacking motivation.
While CBD is well-known for its relaxing properties, it’s also great for supporting energy levels. Many SAD sufferers say that it helps ward off their fatigue and lethargy. Recent research suggests that CBD has promising pharmacological properties as a ‘wake-inducing’ agent. It appears to have positive effects on reducing fatigue and boosting energy. This may be due to the ability of CBD to increase serum concentration of the endocannabinoid anandamide, which is a natural mood-enhancer. In fact, it can promote the same feeling that helps overcome fatigue, boosts your mood and gives you a feeling of natural energy—one similar to the feeling that exercise produces.
CBD for SAD: products to consider
The huge variety of CBD products now available means that it’s easier than ever to avail its benefits, including oral, topical, edible, and inhalable products. All of these products contain cannabidiol in various formulations and concentrations. It’s a good idea to experiment with different products to find the one that suits your needs and lifestyle.
Here are some of the CBD products that you can use for seasonal affective disorder.
A final word
Check the information labels on all CBD products before purchasing, and ask questions if you’re unsure about the content, source, or dosage. Stick to high-quality products made from organically-grown CBD, such as those from a reliable retailer like Verified CBD.
It’s also important to talk to your doctor before starting CBD, especially if you’re taking any antidepressant medications. There may be a risk of CBD interacting with certain medications and affecting their efficacy.
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