If cannabis can help Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) first, we must understand what SAD is. SAD is a type of depression usually more apparent in the Autumn and winter months as the nights begin to draw in. Hence, its often known as “Winter Depression”. Majority of sufferers have normal mental health throughout the most the year and only exhibit symptoms at the same time of year. As mentioned above, this is usually around mid-late autumn/early winter.
What Causes SAD?
Although the cause of SAD is not yet fully understood it is widely accepted that the lack of sunlight during the winter (or Autumn) months prevent a part of the brain called the Hypothalamus from working correctly. In turn this affects the:
- Internal Body clock – During the darker months your body clock can go array as our body uses sunlight for important functions like the time you wake up.
- Production of Melatonin – Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the body that makes you feel tired/sleepy. The body produces more than required in people who suffer from SAD. Therefore, one of the symptoms is tiredness (more on this below).
- Production of Serotonin – Serotonin is the hormone that affects our mood as well as our sleep and appetite. Unlike Melatonin, the lack of sunlight reduces the bodies ability to produce Serotonin leading to feelings of depression.
What are the Symptoms of SAD?
In the UK 1 in 15 people suffer from SAD whilst in the US the number is believed to be over 10 million. According to a study carried out by The Weather Channel and YouGov 29% of adults suffer from SAD as the clocks go back and the nights get darker around October time (UK/Northern Hemisphere). The research also finds women are 40% more likely to experience symptoms then men. If you have SAD you may experience some of the signs or symptoms below, however, these will generally alter from person to person:
- Lack of Energy – Feeling lethargic, no motivation to carry out normal daily activities, sleeping during the day.
- Sleep problems – Going to bed earlier than usual or feeling tired earlier. Difficult getting up/ waking up in the mornings. Generally sleeping for longer.
- Mood – Feeling unhappy/sad, low or even tearful. Feeling of guilt and worthlessness possibly due to lack of motivation to carry out usual activities. Irritable or short tempered to others.
- Appetite – AKAComfort eating.Feeling more hungry than usual or snaking between meals.
- Immune System – More prone to picking up seasonal colds, infections or other illnesses.
Treatments for SAD
Depending on your symptoms there are numerous treatments recommended for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Whilst the vast majority of SAD sufferers have manageable symptoms, approximately 20% of sufferers exhibit more serious symptoms and may need to consult medical professionals.
- Light Therapy – A ‘Lightbox’ which omits Lumens is used to simulate exposure to natural sunlight. Generally, a full spectrum white light has been historically used and known to reduce SAD symptoms.
- Exercise – Regular exercise is known to reduce many symptoms as well as reducing stress levels. Exercising outdoors will also increase exposure to natural light.
- Medication – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) may be prescribed by medical professionals. However, a 2006 study returned results that showed using a ‘Lightbox’ was effective in 67% of cases. The same as SSRI!
How Cannabis can help:
Whilst the above treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder should be explored an alternative and growing in popularity for medicinal use is Cannabis. Whilst going for a walk or meeting with friends can and does help with SAD, and depression in general, this is not always as simple as its sounds. Been motivated to eat healthily, exercise and socialising is one of the struggles associated with the disorder.
Cannabis contains chemicals called Cannabinoids which work in tandem with the human Endocannabinoid system. This controls aspects of our body and mind including pain, affects our mood and speeds up the growth and development of nervous tissue. This natural plant helps battle stress by enhancing your mood, relieving anxiety, and combating insomnia whilst providing energy and focus. Two cannabinoids that most know of are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Both cannabinoids THC and CBD are known for antidepressant properties for patients. A study by McGill University, Montreal, showed that low doses of THC can serve as an antidepressant and aids production of Serotonin. However, the study also shows that high levels of THC can have an adverse effect.
In 2010, a study was published by scientist at the University of São Paulo, Brazil and University of London, UK. The aim of the study was to investigate to see CBD had anxiolytic properties by orally administering 400mg of both CBD and Placebo. Relative to placebo, CBD was associated with significantly decreased subjective anxiety. These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in SAD and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.
Top Cannabis Strains for S.A.D
- Critical Relief CBD Feminised by Garden of Green – An Afghani x Skunk cross which is a 75% Sativa that produces nearly double the amount of CBD to THC. As a result, the CBD counters the THC psychoactive properties allowing patients to take this medicine without getting too high.
- THC: 6-8%
- CBD: 11%
- Effect: Calming, Soothing
- Blue Dream CBD Feminised by Humboldt Seeds – A Sativa-dominant (65% Sativa, 35% Indica) feminised cannabis seed with high CBD content and, therefore, with many therapeutic properties. It is basically a CBD-rich version of one of the most famous California marijuana strains: Blue Dream. With a 1:1 THC:CBD ratio measured at 10% each, she’s an ideal medicinal strain useful for an array of ailments including depression. Its energetic effect does not prevent users from feeling clear-minded.
- THC: 10%
- CBD: 10%
- Effect: Energetic
- Afgooey Feminised by Strain Hunters – With 16-20% THC and 1-5% CBD Afgooey Feminised has a long-lasting cerebral effect that can be defined as confusing, heady, almost chaotic. Recommended for apathy and depression and your worries will float away. It is earthy at first, but evolves into a sweeter, fruitier experience, with notes of orange, lemon and tropical fruits. An Indica dominant strain not for the novice user
- THC: 16-20%
- CBD: 1-5%
- Effect: Long-Lasting
- Lemon Haze Auto Feminised by Expert Seeds – A Sativa strain created by crossing Lemon Auto with a Haze Auto. The result is a very fast Auto-flowering strain that delivers a strong body feelings combined with a positive, cerebral uplifting high. Weighing in at 18% THC and 1% CBD. As a result, Lemon Haze delivers many Medical Benefits including aiding with Appetite, whilst relieving symptoms of stress and depression. Headaches, Insomnia and Chronic Pain.
- THC: 18%
- CBD: 1%
- Effect: Cerebral, Uplifting
Whilst it is widely accepted that Cannabis has many medicinal benefits. its also accepted that more research is needed. How cannabis can be beneficial and effect our hormones such as Serotonin is becoming more evident by the day. Whilst the above list gives you an idea of the strains available, there are many strains than can alleviate Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder it’s important to know your own thresholds. New cannabis users should aim for higher CBD with lower THC ratios
Using cannabis for your ailments is a great option. However, we recommend that if your symptoms are not manageable you should seek professional medical advice.
As the clocks go back across the majority of the Northern Hemisphere, it is this time of year that S.A.D rears its head. Therefore, for a limited period here at Coffee Shop Seeds we are offering 15% off all medicinal seeds. Use promo code SAD15 at check out.