Can CBD help with Seasonal Affective Disorder?

We’ve only just emerged into a brand new year, only to be faced right off the bat with what has been dubbed the ‘most depressing day of the year’ - Blue Monday.

Coined by psychologist Cliff Arnall in 2004, Blue Monday, which falls on the 17th of January each year, is apparently a culmination of post-Christmas woes, calculated in a dreary formula: Weather, debt, monthly salary deficit, time since Christmas, time since failing our new year's resolutions, low motivation levels, the feeling of a need to take action.

Fortunately, since being brought to light by travel company Sky Travel, who paid Arnall to figure out the best time for people to book a holiday as part of a new year marketing campaign, the mental health professional has confessed Blue Monday is nothing but pseudoscience and has urged Brits to “refute the whole notion”!

So, with CBD in hand, we plan to do just that.

The formula itself may be nothing but a PR ploy, but many of us do face low moods during this dark, cold time of year. If nothing else, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD - a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern) affects around two million people in the UK, with symptoms including a persistent low mood, lacking energy, decreased sex drive and weight gain. Undoubtedly, many of us could do with a little pick-me-up to keep spirits bright long past Christmas.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

It’s not uncommon to find that your mood matches the dreary weather in colder months, but if this reaches a point where it’s interfering with your life, a doctor might call this Seasonal Affective Disorder or Seasonal Depression.

What causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

It’s thought that SAD might have a lot to do with serotonin - a vital neurotransmitter in the body that helps to regular mood, among many other processes. Studies have revealed that people with SAD often have low levels of vitamin D, difficulty regulating serotonin and lower serotonin activity, as well as an overproduction of melatonin - the hormone that makes you sleepy. However, we’re yet to fully understand what causes SAD, or if it’s caused by the same thing in every person.

Can CBD help with SAD?

Light therapy, Vitamin D supplements, and counselling approaches are emerging as effective treatments, as well as prescription SSRIs. Generally, supplements that keep your bodily processes balanced and in good health could potentially help keep conditions like SAD at bay too - and taking care of yourself during the time of year we’re most likely to get ill isn’t a bad idea!

Unlike other supplements, CBD oil contains cannabinoids such as CBD and, in whole plant products, cannabidiolic acids like CBDa. These molecules are known to activate serotonin receptors, an action which naturally boosts serotonin levels in the body. The interaction of CBD oil with the endocannabinoid system (our internal body balancing system, which helps bring equilibrium to all processes), also means that a regular dose of CBD oil could help keep things regulated when there might be extrinsic factors knocking things out of whack.

How to use CBD for SAD?

If you’re considering trying CBD oil to help with low mood and other symptoms of SAD over the winter months, there’s really no special way to do this! Whatever your reason for taking CBD oil, the tricks for getting the most out of it remain the same:

  • Be consistent! CBD oil works best if you take it every day, ideally a few times a day, not sporadically or when you ‘feel like you need it’. By doing this, you’re allowing cannabinoids to gradually accumulate and equipping your body with the tools it needs in advance of needing them!
  • Start low and build up slowly. If you’re new to CBD oil, or you’re taking it for a new reason, you’ll benefit from finding the dose that’s right for you. To do this, start with a few drops under the tongue each time you take it. Add a drop or two each time you take it every week until you find that it’s making a difference in your life.
  • Boost absorption. As with most supplements, a lot of product is lost through absorption, so to get the most for your money it’s a good idea to try and do things that increase the amount of product that actually gets to work in your system. If you’re taking oral drops, do so after eating or brushing your teeth (for increased blood flow to the mouth) and hold under the tongue for at least a minute. If you’re taking capsules, do so after eating.
  • Combining CBD oil with other well-being practices and supplements that are known for easing the symptoms of SAD is also worth considering. As vitamin D is likely to play a key role in Seasonal Affective Disorder, simply getting outside every day even for a short walk can be immensely helpful, as can getting enough restorative sleep. Other commonly used natural remedies include for SAD include saffron, sage and green tea, like the extract we use in our CBD capsules.