Does Medical Marijuana Help People With Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Does Medical Marijuana Help People With Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Published on 2/17/22

As the days get shorter, more people are talking about seasonal affective disorder - you may be interested to know whether or not cannabis can help. Let's find out. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder Definition and Symptoms

Seasonal affective disorder (also known as SAD or seasonal depression) is a type of depression brought on by changes in the seasons. While it can be experienced any time of the year, seasonal affective disorder is most common from late fall through the winter. Seasonal affective disorder symptoms can include lethargy, a loss of interest or motivation, issues sleeping, changes in weight and/or appetite, difficulty concentrating, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, and even suicidal thoughts. The severity of seasonal affective disorder can range from mild to severe, and it shouldn't be shrugged off as the "winter blues." It can take a real toll on your life and should therefore be taken seriously. 

In fact, "seasonal affective disorder" is now considered a subset of major depressive disorders that happens to have a seasonal pattern. It is no longer considered a stand-alone mood disorder - seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression and should be considered as such. The main difference between "depression" and "seasonal affective disorder" comes down to timing. It is most common in higher regions at higher latitudes with greater season changes and is thought to be most commonly brought on by a lack of daylight. Common treatments for seasonal affective disorder include therapy, psychotherapy, and various medications.  

Using Cannabis for Seasonal Affective Disorder


If you're reading this, the chances are good that you're wondering about the correlation between cannabis and depression. Can cannabis help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal depression? Is it possible to use CBD for winter blues? The answer may be yes. 

Please note, however, that the following content is not medical advice. We highly advise that you discuss your options with a medical professional if you believe you are experiencing seasonal affective disorder. Ask about using cannabis for SAD disorder and what the benefits/risks may be for your situation. It is also important to consider what other medications you may be taking. While medical marijuana can be taken alongside some other medications, there are also risks behind certain interactions. 

Using Medical Marijuana for Seasonal Affective Disorder

That being said, some studies have suggested cannabis can act as an anti-depressant and activate the creation of serotonin. When treating depression with medication, the key is generally to alter your body's chemical balance to increase the production of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine. Cannabis' capacity to increase the production of these chemicals is a major indicator that it may have the potential for anti-depressant use. When you use cannabis, cannabinoids like THC and CBD bind to receptors within your body's endocannabinoid system, heightening the various functions it is responsible for. The endocannabinoid system is found throughout the body and is responsible for regulating pain, our immune system, and even moods and responses to stress.

A common use of medical marijuana is to treat symptoms of anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that, compared to non-users, individuals who use cannabis at least once a week show more positive affect and less depressed moods. Since seasonal affective disorder is now officially considered a subset of depression, it follows suit that it may help treat the more common side effects. Based on patient reports, there's also reason to believe that cannabis high in CBD does a better job alleviating side effects. While using CBD for seasonal affective disorder on its own may provide some relief, much like medical marijuana without any CBD, it's reported that the entourage effect produced by full-spectrum strains provides the best results.

Strains Good for Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder 

1. Super Silver Haze 

This sativa strain has a wide range of CBD levels but can get as high as almost 1:1 THC to CBD. This uplifting, energizing strain is incredibly tasty and is excellent at picking up your spirits.

2. Harlequin 

This sativa strain has a CBD to THC ratio of 5:2. However, it can still give you a clear-headed high with a robust, soothing CBD-heavy content ideal for combatting the side effects of seasonal affective disorder.

3. ACDC 

This sativa strain has an incredibly high CBD to THC ratio of 20:1. It will still get you high, but the focus of this strain is a soothing, clear-headed high that is a great stress and anxiety reliever.

4. Cannatonic 

With a balanced 1:1 THC to CBD ratio, this hybrid strain offers a mellow high that is often very relaxing and ideal for melting away stress and anxiety. It is also commonly used to treat pain and migraines. 

For more anti-depression and anxiety strains, we suggest checking out our list of the best strains for anxiety.  

Do you or someone you know have seasonal affective disorder? Let us know what you think about using CBD or medical marijuana for seasonal affective disorder, if you've tried it, and how else we can best progress the conversation. Comment below!

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