What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
The Winter Doldrums, Midwinter Blues, Cabin Fever… we’ve had a variety of names for it throughout the years. Many of us experience some sort of malaise or slump during the winter months or near the solstice. This seems related to the retreating sun and colder temps. Some of us experience a downgrade in our attitude and performance that is profound enough to be labeled Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) identifies Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as “a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.” Scientists and mental health professionals lack a complete understanding of a single precise underlying cause for SAD. Likely there is a compounding set of issues can exacerbate the condition.
Sunlight exposure and Vitamin D are one possible culprit. Colder temps keep us indoors and have us covering more of our bodies. At the same time we naturally receive far less sunlight. (or none at all depending on where we live in the world) Another plausible explanation is that the colder temps drive many people to a more sedentary lifestyle. This can be exacerbated by high calorie diet as the body naturally prepares itself to endure the cold weather. (and for Aunt Martha’s famous pies at the holiday dinner table)
What Helps SAD?
Whether it’s as relatively innocuous as a few extra calories and a little less movement during the season, or it’s a more serious malady like diagnosed SAD, many of us need a little additional pick me up during the winter months. Those who are diagnosed as seasonally affected have reported good success with different treatment approaches. Vitamin D supplementation, a diligent exercise routine, and simulated light therapy are some examples.
CBD has also been shown to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of SAD. Esther Blessing (et al) provided a partial summary of CBD’s clinical relevance in “Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders” for the journal Neurotherapeutics, saying: “CBD reduces experimentally induced anxiety in healthy controls, without affecting baseline anxiety levels, and reduces anxiety in patients with SAD.” CBD has been demonstrated effective for the broader group of anxiety disorders. It seems to have implications for the core fear response in humans. This yields promise for disorders like PTSD, GAD, as well as for SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is also known to disrupt sleep patterns.
CBD is also demonstrated effective for a variety of sleep disorders, most notably insomni. Cannabidiol seems to assist in regulating sleep patterns and promoting quality REM sleep. At the very least, the endocannabinoid system, which is what CBD works with in the body, is associated with metabolic regulation and energy, something all of us could use more of, especially in the dead of winter.
Whether you’re trying to combat the very serious consequence of diagnosed SAD, or just trying to stave off the midwinter blues and keep your exercise regiment in order, cannabidiol from hemp oil may be able to give you the extra push to stay at the peak of your game!