Can Medical Marijuana Help with Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Are you feeling anxiety, a lack of energy, and difficulty concentrating? The shorter amount of daylight can change people’s moods since the sun sets earlier in the day. That’s why many people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, find the winter months unbearable. And many people fight seasonal affective disorder without realizing they have a medical condition.
What is SAD?
SAD is “a sort of depression that’s tied to changes in seasons because the symptoms begin and end at around the same periods every year,” according to the Mayo Clinic. Usually, symptoms start in the fall and last through the winter. Then, they subside in the spring and summer.
Symptoms of SAD may include the following:
- Low energy, lethargy, and fatigue.
- Change in appetite.
- Depression or anxiety.
- Social and isolation withdrawal.
- Thoughts of suicidal ideation and self-harm.
- Difficulty in focusing and concentrating.
Symptoms of SAD can start at any time of year, but it is more common in the fall and winter. And sometimes, symptoms of seasonal affective disorder can be confused with bipolar disorder. Our counselors at DocMJ Cares have experience diagnosing this. Until patients learn that they can alleviate symptoms of the mood disorder with light therapy, prescription medications, and other alternative medicines.
Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
People who reside further from the equator, where sunlight is less abundant as winter approaches, are more likely to suffer from seasonal affective disorder. It’s thought that seasonal affective disorder has several root causes, including:
- Low serotonin levels.
- Vitamin D deficiency.
- A disrupted internal body clock.
Because the days are shorter in the winter, we are exposed to fewer daylight hours which leads to a lack of vitamin D. Not everyone experiences SAD. Still, the impact on mood and energy levels is significant for some.
Can You Use Medical Marijuana to Alleviate the Symptoms of SAD?
Serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain are frequently low, contributing to depression and anxiety. When these hormones are insufficient, we experience sadness and a sense of alienation, which has a detrimental effect on our mood.
Our brain’s neurotransmitters, dopamine, and serotonin, control our mood. Cannabinoids can have a positive impact on mood, including anxiety or depression, by stimulating the same receptors.
Effects of Cannabis for Seasonal Depression on the Human Brain
The Endocannabinoid Receptor System, or ECS, is a group of receptors communicating via neuronal pathways within the human brain. There are more than 100 cannabinoids, but two can have the most impact on mood disorders, according to studies.
THC is a psychoactive substance found in medical cannabis. Depending on the kind, form, dosage, and strain, these adverse effects might range from energizing to drowsy. But some people do try mmj for seasonal affective disorder because the main active compounds can provide relief.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating substance used topically or taken orally as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic. The well-being and general tranquility that CBD is known to produce.
Some essential cannabinoids the body naturally makes are also found in a few common foods. But like other nutrients, many individuals prefer to add naturally occurring cannabinoids, most prevalent in the hemp or cannabis plant, to their diets.
Best Medical Marijuana for SAD
CBD-rich products are the best for treating seasonal affective disorder. It’s vital to emphasize that CBD, one of the cannabis plant’s active ingredients, has no psychoactive effect.
Some medical cannabis strains commonly used by patients to address seasonal affective disorder include Pineapple Express, AC/DC, Afgoo, Chocolope, and Super Silver Haze.
Proper Techniques to Use Medical Cannabis for Seasonal Depression
If you’ve never used cannabis for seasonal depression, you may have questions. Like how does cannabis aid in reducing depression symptoms? Do I need to “get stoned” to feel better from my feelings of depression?
Some individuals may have underlying medical issues that make the therapeutic use of cannabis for seasonal depression less safe. Because of this, it’s crucial to get medical advice first.
Even if marijuana for recreational use is permitted in your state, that discussion and a review of your medical history are necessary. Additionally, obtaining a medical card and registering as a patient is required for legal use.
Cannabis with Exercise
SAD sufferers might consider exercising outside. Though the advantages of endorphins associated with a good sweat session are widely recognized, did you know that when you exercise, your body also creates its endogenous cannabinoids?
In 2015, researchers found that mice running on wheels created endocannabinoids that alleviated pain and anxiety. According to this study, the well-known “runner’s high” is directly related to our bodies’ endocannabinoid system.
Improve Sleep Cycle with Medical Cannabis
For people with SAD, sleeping might be difficult. The shorter days may disturb our circadian clock, making it difficult to get and stay asleep. Both THC and CBD have provided benefits to patients who struggle with sleep disorders. To improve rest and rejuvenation, THC, in particular, can make it easier to fall asleep and increase slow-wave and REM sleep.
Other Lifestyle Changes
Small changes every day can help you reduce your symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Consider these suggestions to help get you started:
- Open your curtains, and prune any sun-blocking tree branches to let more light in. While at home or the office, sit closer to windows with sunlight.
- Go for a long walk, have lunch in a nearby park, or relax on a sunny bench.
- Stress and anxiety can worsen the symptoms of SAD. Therefore exercise and other physical activities can assist.
- Establish regular wake-up and bedtime hours each day. Reduce or stop napping and oversleeping, especially for SAD, which begins in the fall or winter.
How to Get a Treatment Plan for Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Your doctor will suggest a treatment plan if you request a medical card. That might also incorporate different types of treatment designed specifically to address seasonal affective illness (SAD). That could entail using nutritional therapy, light therapy, and dietary modifications in addition to medical cannabis for seasonal depression.
Patients who have adverse side effects from prescribed anxiety or clinical depression drugs may decide to try cannabis for mood disorders. It might be an excellent option with fewer adverse effects than many prescription medications used to treat the winter blues.
Talk to a Doctor About SAD and Medical Cannabis
Can medical marijuana help with seasonal affective disorder? Our physicians will help you determine whether your mental health symptoms or mood disorder may qualify you to become a registered patient.
Many patients have tried medical cannabis to help with symptoms. Explore doctor-supervised medicinal cannabis as an alternative therapy to combat seasonal affective disorder. Schedule an appointment today and find out if you can apply for a medical marijuana card.