Unravelling Seasonal Affective Disorder
Just as the autumn leaves begin to fall and the frosts and chilly squalls of winter make their presence felt, many of us start to feel a noticeable drop in our mood and energy. It’s not just the usual winter blues. This is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a mood disorder that affects people during specific times of the year, particularly in the autumn and winter months. According to aJAMA Psychiatry study, it is estimated that four to six percent of people suffer from SAD, while a further ten to twenty percent may experience a milder form of winter blues.
The Science Behind SAD
Experts believe that the root causes of SAD are biological. The limited exposure to sunlight during the shorter days of autumn and winter may disrupt our body’s natural circadian rhythms, leading to feelings of depression. The reduced sunlight can also lead to lower serotonin levels – the neurotransmitter that modulates our mood. Simultaneously, the creation of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, may also increase, leading to lethargy and fatigue.
Traditional Treatment Options
The typical treatment options range from light therapy, which involves exposure to artificial light to psychotherapy, and even medications, including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). However, many of these treatments come with a host of potential unwanted side effects, from nausea and sleep problems to the possibility of feeling even more fatigued and despondent.
The Emergence of CBD as Potential Aid
In the quest for natural, and potentially side-effect free remedies to address SAD, the focus has been increasingly turning to Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in the cannabis plant. Over the past few years, the benefits of this plant-derived compound have been explored extensivelyas highlighted in this study. Despite its cannabis roots, CBD does not have psychoactive effects, meaning it will not make you ‘high’.
How Can CBD Help in Managing SAD?
CBD is believed to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex system that plays a critical role in maintaining the body’s internal balance or homeostasis, including our sleep, mood, appetite, and circadian rhythms.
When introduced into our body, CBD can mimic some of the natural cannabinoids, potentially helping to maintain these functions smoothly. Evidence from several studies suggest that CBD can aid in reducing anxiety and improving one’s moodas outlined here.
Bridging the Research Gap
Though more rigorous, large-scale clinical trials need to be conducted to conclusively confirm CBD’s benefits in battling SAD, anecdotal evidence from users and early scientific research paints a promising picture. One specific study found that CBD alleviated anxiety-related behaviours in mice subjected to a simulation of SAD, as reported in The National Library of Medicine. The study concluded that CBD could be a potential treatment for SAD symptoms, such as anxiety and depression.
Is Using CBD Safe?
A frequently asked question about CBD usage is its safety. The World Health Organisation has endorsed CBD’s safety profile, outlining that it has no adverse public health effects. However, it is essential to start using CBD under the guidance of a healthcare professional, particularly if you are under any medication, as CBD can potentially interact with some drugsas illustrated in this report.
CBD and Other Health Conditions
Beyond potential benefits for SAD, CBD has been explored for multiple other health conditions too. For instance, the use of CBD for migrainesis garnering significant attention. Numerous studies and user reports are indicating that CBD might help in reducing both the intensity and frequency of migraines, providing a natural and potentially fewer side-effect way of managing this debilitating condition.
Seasonal Affective Disorder no longer has to overshadow our joy during the festive and winter season. With the promising potential of CBD in managing and possibly alleviating SAD symptoms, we might have a natural, effective, and healthy solution to this persistent problem. As CBD research continues to forge ahead, we can look forward to shedding light not just on the darker winter days, but also on our mood and overall mental state. However, always remember to consult with medical professionals before incorporating CBD into your health plan.