How Cannabis Helps Treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

Photo credit: Gnartoons/Seattle Weekly

There’s never a wrong way to feel sad. That’s what myself and nearly 10 million Americans have discovered thanks to SAD research in psychology and neuroscience.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known an SAD, is a mood disorder characterized by depression that occurs at the same time every year. Seasonal affective disorder occurs in climates where there is less sunlight at certain times of the year. 

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Symptoms of SAD include fatigue, depression, hopelessness, and social withdrawal. Have you ever felt a sudden wave of unexplainable sadness around the wintertime? Do you notice how low your energy levels become and the anxiety and irritability that follow right behind during that time?

Some may chalk it up to “winter blues”, a phrase that gets tossed around as the main culprit. This could be the case for some that have difficulty getting through holidays, but this doesn’t truly encapsulate what SAD’s level of sadness represents for others or their mental health.

The acronym for SAD hits right on the nose with regard to the emotional side of the disorder, but again, there’s so much more happening behind the mask.

SAD in America

SAD impacts nearly 5% of U.S. citizens every year. This reoccurring subtype of depression brings all the feelings and thoughts of major depressive disorder and happens most often during the fall and winter, hence “winter blues”. The most common symptoms associated with SAD include:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or sadness
  • Changes in appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Low energy
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Heaviness in limbs 
  • Irritability
  • Hypersomnia or oversleeping
  • Increased sensitivity

For me, SAD would show up as anxiety:  I would fidget in class if I had trouble concentrating, or I would constantly tear up my nails, and I’d rip the skin around my nails off until they were sore.

My Experience with Cannabis for SAD Treatment

Everyone has their own methods for getting them through this low and rather heavy period of time. I’ve found that regular exercise and rest are a good combination for helping me, but treating SAD with Cannabis , has been the greatest success. 

Cannabis has been the best method for balancing my moods and providing me with the relief I need to get through another day. In fact, Cannabis offers mental relief during SAD and beyond for me. SAD usually returns the same time every year for me and many- this season, when the weather is cloudy and colder and sadder. Less daylight- more darkness.

I’ll admit; Christmas, lights, holiday songs and movies, family dinners, I love it all. Christmas is my jam and I don’t care who knows it. A daily dose of Christmas lights at night certainly helps my sadness and anxiety! However, I’ll still struggle at work, when I’m sitting at home, or if I meet up with friends and family. 

I feel it if I have to prepare to go shopping or interact with people at a company holiday party. An invisible curtain reminds me I’m not fully here. Before a few years ago, I didn’t know what it meant for my mind to wander like it did, even when I knew I was happy at the moment or having fun. 

Cannabis helped with SAD. It grounded me and allowed me the ability to see how my depressed and anxious behavior was impacting my day to day life, not to mention my mentality. 

Cannabis Strains Great for SAD

For those who are thinking of consuming Cannabis to cope with SAD , congratulations! You’ve stepped into a new and exciting holistic world. I am no doctor so; you should consult with a medical professional for medical Cannabis strains for SAD- this is a lot easier in a legal state. 

For now, to help initiate your research, to help ensure you ease into cannabis slowly, I’d recommend starting with hemp CBD flower and/or other products, and working your way through to see what fits best with your symptoms. CBD contains little to no THC, and provides the calm and relief regular Cannabis would without the psycho-active high that THC may provide. 

For those with Cannabis consumption experience and confidence, here are a few of my recommendations, great for managing SAD symptoms :

  • ACDC
  • Super Silver Haze
  • Pineapple Express
  • Chernobyl
  • Afgoo


If you already struggle with SAD/seasonal depression, or are reading this and for the first time may be thinking, “wow…I felt this way before too,” believe me when I say, the sky always does eventually clear. Yes, sometimes it might take a while, but the people who love you will support you regardless of time. Cannabis can too. 

“I’m Alyna, a writer from Florida and strong advocate for the mental health community. Through my writing and advocacy, I hope to add an educating voice that helps the with mood disorders learn to navigate life in a calm and self-fulfilling way. I consume Cannabis as a means to understand and connect with the world.

Written By: Alyna Paparazzi 

Edited by: Veronica Castillo

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