It’s that time of year again. The sun turns shy behind the clouds, the leaves crisp and change their hues, stores begin to sell pumpkin and turkey and gift-wrap. That’s right, it’s Autumn! For many of us, Fall is a time for celebration, capping off the final months of the year with an array of festive traditions.
This time of year comes at a cost to some, however. Seasonal Affective Disorder – otherwise known as seasonal depression or an abbreviated entendre: SAD – affects over 500,000 people in the United States alone, most of them women in their twenties. Similar to other depressive disorders, SAD can be debilitating, if not neurologically crippling.
Although these coming months around the sun come as a time of dread for those afflicted by seasonal depression, fear not: There is something you can do to fight it. Cannabidiol, or CBD, may be able to help you overcome the effects of SAD this holiday season.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
To understand how CBD can help counteract some of the most devastating symptoms of seasonal depression, it’s first important to understand the nature of the disease itself. Foremost, SAD is seasonal. This means that the disorder likely recurs each year around the same time. The onset is commonly associated with Fall, worsening in Winter, and ending in Spring.
And while over half a million American people suffer from SAD, not much is known about the depressive disorder. Current evidence into the nature of the illness strongly suggests that changes in the availability of sunlight may be the common cause. However, there are many theories attempting to pinpoint the exact biological reasoning behind the onset of SAD.
One theory states that the lack of sunlight during Fall and Winter obstructs our circadian rhythm, unwinding our biological clock. This theory would explain SAD’s effect on mood, sleep cycles, and hormone levels.
Another theory argues that people with SAD experience changes in neurotransmission. This would mean that brain chemicals, such as serotonin, deviate from their regulatory function during months of reduced sunlight. Under this theory, exposure to sunlight could correct the adverse neurological changes.
And while the exact science behind seasonal depression is not yet proven, there is a plethora of evidence suggesting who is most at risk. According to the Mayo Clinic, you may be at greater risk of SAD if you fall into one of the following categories:
· Family history of seasonal depression or other depressive disorders
· Already suffer from major depression or bipolar disorder
· Live far from the equator
And the list of symptoms associated with seasonal depression are broad, impacting virtually all aspects of day-to-day life. Symptoms of SAD include:
· Irritability and agitation
· Inability to concentrate
· Extreme fatigue and lack of motivation
· Heavy sensation in limbs
· Increased need for sleep and oversleeping
· Weight gain
· In extreme cases, suicidal thoughts or behavior
It’s been observed that those suffering from SAD tend to experience a variety of societal problems as well. Because of these debilitating symptoms, those afflicted with seasonal depression tend to withdraw from social activities, have trouble investing themselves in school or work, lose interest in their usual activities, turn to substance abuse to cope with symptoms, and in extreme cases can develop other mental illnesses, including anxiety or eating disorders.
How Can CBD Help Seasonal Depression?
Users report that CBD can help with a myriad of SAD-related symptoms. Research into the relationship between CBD and physical or mental ailments is still developing, but interesting findings may prove a link between CBD and relief from mental disorders.
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, known as the ECS. The ECS is found within the nervous system, and has been observed to affect:
· Pain, soreness, and inflammation
As you can see, the ECS is responsible for the regulation of various bodily anomalies, and has been linked to the perpetuation of internal homeostasis, an internal state of equilibrium. SAD, by definition, affects homeostasis and deters regulatory bodily functions, throwing your body out of balance. This is why CBD could be important in the supplementation of neurological ailments such as seasonal depression.
In fact, many users report starting CBD as a way to cope with neurological illnesses, such as depression or anxiety disorders. In this way, CBD could be used by those suffering from SAD, as it may help overcome some of the symptoms.
CBD affects every user differently, and it’s important to know how it affects you and your body before diving headfirst into the world of CBD treatment. As CBD continues to become more popular, however, more and more research will develop to establish a link between CBD and treatment options. In fact, the U.S. government recently awarded $3 million to researchers around the country in an effort to better understand CBD’s potential benefits for the body and mind.
Should You Use CBD If You’re Suffering from SAD?
It’s up to you whether or not to try supplementing your seasonal depression with CBD. What works for some may not work for others. However, the plethora of evidence and user reports suggesting CBD’s benefits for neurological disorders such as SAD is impactful.
But with few – if any – side effects, CBD may be just what you were looking for to overcome your SAD this Fall. If you’re new to the CBD industry, start with a smaller dose and increase incrementally until you understand exactly how it makes you feel. And who knows, maybe it’s just what you needed to get you through the holiday season.