January 18, 2022

Can CBD Keep You Happy All Winter? CBD & Seasonal Affective Disorder

Winter is here. It's a time of year when the world around us (in the northern hemisphere) can get pretty dark, cold, and dreary. For many, this means a lot of time spent indoors. For some people, this can lead to a condition called seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

The long nights can lead to depression, anxiety, and even increased risk of suicide. You’ve talked to your doctor about treatments, and want more options to boost your wellness.

Read on for the full story on how CBD could help keep you happy all winter long.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

SAD is a type of depression that is related to changes in seasons. It usually starts in the fall and lasts through the winter. Symptoms may get worse as the winter season continues, and they tend to go away in the springtime.

SAD shares a lot of the same symptoms as other types of depression. These symptoms include:(1)

  • Feeling sad or down most of the time
  • Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Weight gain or changes in appetite
  • Sleep problems
  • Feeling hopeless or guilty

Many people feel a little more down than usual in the winter months. In fact, about 10 million people in the US suffer from seasonal affective disorder, and women are four times more likely than men to get diagnosed with it.(2)

If you’re concerned about whether your bleak outlook is just passing winter blues or seasonal affective disorder, talk to your doctor.

Causes & Risk Factors For Seasonal Affective Disorder

Scientists aren't totally sure what causes SAD. But, they think it may have to do with the amount of daylight you get. We know this because people who live farther from the equator are more likely to get SAD.(2) It's possible that the reduced sunlight you get in the winter messes with your overall serotonin levels and biological clock.

The lack of sunlight during the fall and winter months can lead to lower levels of vitamin D.

Your chances of developing seasonal affective disorder also increases if you have a family history of it. Lastly, if you already have a mood disorder — like depression or bipolar disorder — it may become worse during seasonal changes.

Can You Prevent SAD With CBD?

There's a lot of interest around CBD's ability to help with anxiety and depression. Some people believe that it could help relieve symptoms of SAD.

There's some evidence behind this theory.

SAD, CBD & Inflammation

Research suggests there's a link between inflammation and depression.(3) Fatigue and depression are both associated with higher levels of inflammation in the central and peripheral nervous system.(4)

Antidepressants — the main medical treatments given to combat depression — have been shown to reduce inflammation.

It gets even more interesting. Research has also demonstrated the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol.(5)

So, it's possible that CBD could help reduce inflammation and, in turn, alleviate some symptoms of SAD.

CBD & Mood Disorders

CBD is well known for having anti-anxiety properties.(6) There's also some evidence that CBD could help with mood disorders like depression.

CBD seems to have fast-acting, anti-depressant qualities.(7) These properties have been shown in both acute (short-term) and chronic usage of CBD.(8)

Other studies have also found that medical cannabis users have lower levels of depression than non-users.(8)

How is CBD working to combat depressive symptoms? It may be interacting with your endocannabinoid system to modulate the serotonin levels — a neurotransmitter that's often low in people with SAD and depression.

How To Take CBD For SAD

First, it's a good idea to check in with your doctor before taking CBD. Your doc will be the best one to guide you in the right direction. For instance, he or she will be able to properly diagnose you. And your doctor can tell you if your current meds may interact with CBD and give you a sense of safe CBD usage for your needs.

Remember, CBD is not an approved treatment for seasonal depression. But it might be something that complements your treatment plan.

If the doc gives the okay, here are some general guidelines for best use:

  • Use an all-natural, highly bioavailable CBD oil.
  • Start with a small dose to see how your body responds.
  • Gradually adjust the dosage so it best suits your needs.
  • Take CBD consistently for best results.

More Ways to Fight the Winter Blues

CBD may be a great natural option to help you manage your symptoms. But there are other things you can try, too. To support your efforts to stay rosy this winter, you can give these tips a shot:

  • Get enough vitamin D.
  • Engage in regular exercise.
  • Eat healthy and stay hydrated.
  • Maintain good sleep hygiene (which CBD can help with!).
  • Being around friends, family, and loved ones.
  • Try to manage your stress.
  • Skip the booze.
  • Ask your doctor about additional treatment options — like light therapy or talk therapy.

With a multi-pronged approach, you’re sure to boost your overall wellness all winter long. (Dare we say you might even feel a bit springy, your summery disposition shining through?)

Hello Winter Season, Goodbye SAD

Many people feel down during the colder seasons. If your low mood seems to persist and makes it difficult to enjoy life — it could be seasonal affective disorder.

CBD is a natural substance that might help relieve some symptoms of SAD. It's possible that the anti-inflammatory properties in cannabidiol have a positive impact on mood. CBD may also help boost serotonin levels — a neurotransmitter often low in people with SAD or other types of depression.

If you're looking to improve how you feel during these winter months, consider making CBD a part of your winter wellness kit this year.



  1. (2021). Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20364651
  2. O’Keefe, M. (2019). Seasonal Affective Disorder Impacts 10 Million Americans. Are You One of Them? BU Today. https://www.bu.edu/articles/2019/seasonal-affective-disorder/
  3. Felger, JC. (2019). Role of Inflammation in Depression and Treatment Implications. Handbook of experimental pharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1007/164_2018_166
  4. Lee, CH, et al. (2019). The Role of Inflammation in Depression and Fatigue. Frontiers in immunology. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2019.01696
  5. Atalay, S, et al. (2019). Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox9010021
  6. Blessing, EM, et al. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. Neurotherapeutics : the journal of the American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1
  7. Silote, GP, et al. (2019). Emerging evidence for the antidepressant effect of cannabidiol and the underlying molecular mechanisms. Journal of chemical neuroanatomy. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jchemneu.2019.04.006
  8. Martin, EL, et al. (2021). Antidepressant and Anxiolytic Effects of Medicinal Cannabis Use in an Observational Trial. Frontiers in psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.729800

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