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Seasonal Affective Disorder: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Seasonal Affective Disorder

What Is It?

Everyone feels sad at some point or another and goes through times of their lives where they are not themselves. Sometimes these changes correlate with changes in seasons, for example, at the beginning of winter or when the days get shorter in the fall. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), more commonly known as the “winter blues”, is a type of depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “in most cases, SAD symptoms start in the late fall or early winter and go away during the spring and summer; this is known as winter-pattern SAD or winter depression. Some people may experience depressive episodes during the spring and summer months; this is called summer-pattern SAD or summer depression and is less common.”

What Are The Symptoms?

Everyone experiences SAD differently, however, common symptoms include:

  • Oversleeping (hypersomnia)
  • Overeating, particularly with a craving for carbohydrates
  • Weight gain
  • Social withdrawal (feeling like “hibernating”)
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Poor appetite, leading to weight loss
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Episodes of violent behavior

It’s important to remember that millions of adults suffer from SAD. If you have been diagnosed, please know that you are not alone.

What Causes Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The short answer is that scientists do not fully understand what causes SAD. However, research points towards the reduced activity of serotonin as a possible cause. Further research suggests that people who have SAD have a problem with the proper functioning of the levels of molecules that help maintain normal serotonin levels.

The NIMH says that “both serotonin and melatonin help maintain the body’s daily rhythm that is tied to the seasonal night-day cycle. In people with SAD, the changes in serotonin and melatonin levels disrupt the normal daily rhythms. As a result, they can no longer adjust to the seasonal changes in day length, leading to sleep, mood, and behavior changes.”

How Can I Beat Seasonal Affective Disorder?

CBD Capsules for seasonal affective disorder
CBD Capsules for Stress Relief

Treatment can include light therapy, psychotherapy, antidepressant medications, and vitamin D supplements.

Light Therapy

Light therapy has been an effective treatment for SAD since the 1980s. “It aims to expose people with SAD to a bright light every day to make up for the diminished natural sunshine in the darker months.”


Psychotherapy, otherwise known as talk therapy, can help individuals cope with stressful and difficult situations. Research has shown that psychotherapy and light therapy, both are equally effective.


Because SAD is a type of depression and is associated with serotonin activity, a prescribed antidepressant can be used to treat SAD. The FDA has approved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat SAD.

Vitamin D Supplements

Boosting your intake of vitamins is a great option as many people diagnosed with SAD have a vitamin D deficiency. However, “studies testing whether vitamin D is effective in SAD treatment to have produced mixed findings, with some results indicating that it is as effective as light therapy but others detecting no effect.”

It’s important to talk to your health care practitioner about what options are best for you.

Does CBD Help With Depression and Anxiety?

The short answer is yes! Taking CBD daily can ease the effects of SAD because CBD interacts with our body’s serotonin receptors and can be thought of as a holistic approach to caring for your body and mind.

Try Plantworthy’s Anxiety & Stress Relief – Herbal CBD Capsules. It incorporates the most powerful adaptogens, including Rhodiola, Reishi, Ashwagandha, Bacopa, and Passion Flower so you can let that stress and anxiety go. Rhodiola is known to increase your body’s resistance to stress and anxiety, it has been suggested to have significant antidepressant properties by balancing the neurotransmitters in your brain. Reishi, traditionally known as the “supreme protector,” has been used for centuries to support symptoms of anxiety and excessive stress.

Ashwagandha is one of the most popular root adaptogens, primarily used for stress relief and fighting adrenal fatigue. Bacopa Monnieri is known for boosting your brain function, alleviating anxiety and stress, and neutralizing free radicals, and preventing fat molecules from reacting with free radicals. Passion Flower is known to boost the level of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in your brain. This compound lowers brain activity, which allows you to relax. CBD interacts with the cannabinoid and serotonin receptors in the brain that help regulate fear and anxiety-induced behaviors.

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