Many things make Winter a cheerful time — holidays, hot chocolate, fireworks on New Year’s Eve, maybe even some snow — the list goes on.
But for some, Winter means the onset of seasonal affective disorder, or as many call it, seasonal depression.
Seasonal depression is difficult to live with, and treatment often includes antidepressant prescriptions that can be expensive and dangerous. This has led many to search for natural alternatives such as CBD.
But can CBD help with seasonal depression, or is it just hype?
Current scientific research suggests that CBD may have some anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects. As anxiety is a chief contributor to depression, CBD has the potential to lend both direct and indirect support to those dealing with seasonal depression.
So while CBD is not a proven substitute for antidepressants, it has many benefits to offer without the same side effects.
Related article: CBD vs. Xanax for Anxiety
What is Seasonal Depression?
Seasonal depression (officially called seasonal affective disorder) is a mood disorder in which feelings of depression happen at the same time each year.
Seasonal depression commonly occurs in places where there is less sunlight during certain times of year — often meaning that it happens during the Winter. However, it can also be an issue during the Summer.
There are a few main symptoms of seasonal depression:
- Fatigue and difficulty concentrating
- Social withdrawal
- Having thoughts of suicide
There are also symptoms that are specifically correlated to seasonal depression in the Summer and Winter.
During the Winter, symptoms include oversleeping, overeating and weight gain, and tiredness.
During the Summer, symptoms include insomnia, poor appetite, weight loss, agitation, anxiety, and irritability.
Seasonal depression in the Winter is thought to be caused by the lack of sunlight characteristic of the season in some locations. This interrupts your internal body clock, which is responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycles.
The lack of sunlight is also known to interfere with the body’s production and processing of the hormone serotonin, which promotes positive feelings.
In the Summer, seasonal depression is caused by a variety of other reasons, including schedule disruptions, financial concerns (often due to vacations), body image issues, and long, hot days.
Can CBD Help With Seasonal Depression?
If you have seasonal depression, getting help is important. However, finding safe, natural alternative methods of managing your seasonal depression is just as critical so that you’re able to enjoy, or at least get through, the Winter season.
CBD is one major natural alternative. The question is, is it actually effective?
CBD May Have Antidepressant & Anti-Anxiety Effects
There is a small amount of research on rats showing that CBD has antidepressant effects. This study found that CBD quickly induced sustained anti-depressant effects by acting on the brain.
Much more research has been done on the anti-anxiety effects of CBD. This study showed that oral CBD administration decreased anxiety in people who did something particularly anxiety-inducing: public speaking.
Other research shows similar results — this study found that CBD reduced both physiological and behavioral responses to stress by blocking the activation of the HPA axis, a neuroendocrine system in the body, and by activating the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor.
Serotonin influences happiness, and the low levels of serotonin that occur during Winter (your body doesn’t produce as much serotonin when there isn’t as much sunlight) are a major cause of seasonal depression.
Though these research results are promising, it’s important for us to mention that further inquiry and proof are needed before CBD could be recognized by the FDA as an anti-anxiety or antidepressant treatment.
For now, CBD is still a supplement, and we can’t reliably claim that it will do anything other than support a normal, healthy mental state.
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What This Means for Seasonal Depression
Science suggests that CBD can support mental health during seasonal depression — both directly and through the “back door,” by addressing anxiety.
The study on rats demonstrating CBD’s antidepressant effects is promising, however, research on humans will be needed before we can say for sure whether CBD is actually a viable alternative to antidepressants.
More compelling, though, is the research showing CBD’s effects on serotonin receptors. Considering that low serotonin levels are heavily associated with seasonal depression, this study shows that CBD has real benefits for those who are struggling with “the Winter blues.”
How to Use CBD for Seasonal Depression
When it comes to CBD products, you’ve got options. There is no “best” way to take it when it comes to seasonal depression — it’s up to what you prefer, given your situation.
That being said, here are the main ways you can take CBD, and their pros and cons.
Tinctures consist of CBD and carrier oil (usually coconut or MCT oil), which is necessary for the CBD to be absorbed into your bloodstream.
Since they’re taken under the tongue, or sublingually, tinctures deliver effects quickly — within 10-15 minutes. The downside is taste, as some don’t like the earthy flavor of CBD oil.
Edibles & Drinks
The one downside to CBD edibles is that since they are digested, it may take 30-45 minutes to feel the effects.
CBD Capsules consist of CBD oil contained in a digestible gel capsule. They provide a quick, easy, tasteless way to get your dose of CBD.
Like edibles, capsules are digested, so it can take 30-45 minutes to feel the effects from them.
Which Product Should I Choose?
The main things to consider when choosing a product are:
- How much you want to control your dosage
- How soon you want to feel the effects of the CBD
Tinctures, edibles, and capsules are all fairly easy to dose, but drinks are not — unless you drink an entire beverage, it’s hard to know exactly how much CBD you’ve consumed.
When it comes to the onset time of effects from CBD, tinctures are felt quickly, whereas edibles and capsules are not. This is something to consider if you’re looking for something that gives you quick mental relaxation.
How Much Should You Take?
To manage seasonal depression, start with 20-30 mg of CBD daily. You can either take this all at once or split it up into 2 smaller doses.
Starting small is always the best option until you learn how your body responds to CBD, at which point you can slowly increase or decrease your dosage each day until you’ve achieved the optimal amount of relaxation that you’re looking for.
Other Ways to Treat Seasonal Depression
CBD is a useful tool for managing seasonal depression, but what are the main treatments?
In light therapy, patients sit near a light box for an hour each day after waking up. The idea of light boxes is to mimic sunlight, and through exposure near the beginning of the day, the natural body clock (which expects to see light when it’s time to wake up) is maintained.
Light therapy is the first line of defense against seasonal depression that’s caused by a lack of sunlight, because it effectively replaces it for a time.
Before purchasing a light box and beginning light therapy, be sure you speak to your doctor about which box would be best, and how to use it.
Psychotherapy uses discussion, listening, and counseling to address mental disorders.
The type of psychotherapy used for seasonal depression is called cognitive behavioral therapy, and through it, you learn how to cope with seasonal depression, as well as how to establish healthy habits and thought patterns that help you improve your situation.
Antidepressant medications are right for some who deal with seasonal depression, especially in more severe cases.
After you talk to your doctor, you’ll learn whether or not this option is right for you — in some cases, you’ll begin taking medication before the time when you typically feel symptoms, and your doctor may recommend that you continue treatment until after symptoms are usually gone.
Other Ways to Manage Seasonal Depression
In addition to taking CBD and using the methods above, here are some other tips for managing seasonal depression:
- Get plenty of exercise
- Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Stay away from substances like drugs & alcohol
- Spend time with others and confide in someone
- Do things that make you feel good — be it going to a movie with friends or volunteering at a charity event
Remember that CBD is a natural alternative for managing seasonal depression, not treating it. If you’re struggling, be sure to seek the help you need from licensed medical professionals and therapists.
However, CBD is another great tool for your toolbox — science has shown that it potentially has anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects, and it’s known to support both physical and mental wellness. The key to dealing with seasonal depression is to balance tried-and-true treatments with natural alternatives!
Shop High-Quality CBD at Natural Ways CBD
If you’re dealing with seasonal depression and you’re looking for high-quality CBD, Natural Ways CBD has you covered. We carry a variety of Full Spectrum, Broad Spectrum, and CBD Isolate products, and in many different forms.
Everything is third-party lab tested, made with American-grown hemp, and backed by hundreds of glowing reviews from customers just like you. Shop online, or, if you’re in the Houston area, stop by one of our six brick-and-mortar locations! We can’t wait to have you join our family!
CBD & Seasonal Depression: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions we commonly get about CBD and seasonal depression.
Does CBD help with seasonal affective disorder?
Yes! Scientific and anecdotal evidence shows that CBD is an effective tool for managing seasonal affective disorder/seasonal depression.
Can CBD help with anxiety and irritability?
Yes — research has shown that CBD has benefits for anxiety, and CBD is known for its relaxing effects, so it can address irritability, too.
What is holiday depression?
Holiday depression is similar to seasonal depression in that it typically occurs at specific times of the year (often in November and December). It stems from the hustle and bustle (gift buying, seeing extended family, etc.) that often surrounds the holiday season and the increased stress that accompanies it.
Can CBD help with holiday depression?
As research has shown CBD to have benefits for stress and anxiety, CBD is definitely beneficial for those struggling with holiday depression.