Seasonal Affective Disorder - which is also often referred to as SAD - is a type of depression which occurs on a seasonal basis. Generally this will affect people from autumn and through the winter months, and this is attributed to the shorter days and the lack of sunlight.
Although cases of SAD are less common in spring, it can still affect people, and sometimes this can be particularly hard. Harvard psychiatrist John Sharp has extensively researched the links between our mental health and wellness and the changing seasons. For those who suffer from spring depression, this time of the year can be tough as everyone else is seemingly inspired with a fresh start and a new lease of life. If you cannot find this mindset and natural energy, you may feel counterintuitively worse.
Determining and pinpointing the exact cause of SAD can be tricky as it will tend to vary from person to person. However, the following three reasons are amongst the top causes and effects:
1. Change for you biological clock
Decreased sunlight, shorter days, and having to rise in the morning when it is still dark may disrupt your internal body clock which can lead to feelings of depression.
2. Low serotonin levels
Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin production in the brain, this is the neurotransmitter which is largely responsible for our happiness.
3. Disrupted melatonin levels
Changing seasons can disrupt the body’s melatonin levels, which will affect sleep pattern, quality of sleep, and overall mood.
There isn’t one absolute and correct way to treat SAD, people’s individual methods may range from antidepressants and vitamin D supplements to counseling and light therapy. Antidepressants are currently the most common route of treatment.
Cannabis is growing in popularity as a natural alternative treatment for SAD. For some people, medical marijuana is the ticket. However, many others are not keen on the psychoactive after effects of consuming marijuana, but they would still like to gain the therapeutic wellness benefits - this is where CBD comes in to play.
CBD (cannabidiol) is a natural plant extract taken from hemp (a member of the cannabis family). There are no mind-altering effects from taking CBD based products, as there is a minimal to untraceable amount of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).
CBD is a popular natural alternative for those who suffer from SAD due to its ability to act like an antidepressant and regulate serotonin reuptake, without any of the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs; this link was proven in a 2014 study.1
Additionally, CBD is often to help improve sleep quality and combat insomnia. The natural compound has mild sedative properties, but its effect on homeostasis (the body’s hormonal and chemical balance) which helps improve sleep. Minimising stress and anxiety levels with CBD is also a key factor in improving sleep, as seen in this large 2019 retrospective case series.2
If you’re feeling low or affected by the long winter and/or the shift into spring right now it is important to address it, instead of hoping it will just pass with time. Try natural alternatives such as CBD while speaking with a trained counselor about how you’re feeling, and visiting your health practitioner.