Psilocybin as a Treatment for SAD

During the winter season, some people fall victim to Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This condition causes a range of symptoms, including depression, that spans through 40% of the year. This article will take you through some key things to know about SAD and how psilocybin may be a treatment option.

Considering the pressures that the holiday season brings, it’s understandable that people feel much more pressured during the winter. Winter months are a hard time for many, and it eventually leads to Seasonal Affective Disorder in some people.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

The term was first used by Norman Rosenthal and some researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, and this was in 1984. Seasonal Affective Disorder describes mood changes that occur between the fall and winter seasons. The condition generally resolves in spring, and this is linked to the changes in available daylight.

In a few cases, people also experience SAD during summer and spring, but it resolves in the fall months. The symptoms vary depending on the individual. Some experience full-blown SAD, while others experience it mildly. It’s worth mentioning that full-blown SAD is also called subsyndromal-SAD or Winter Blues.

History of Seasonal Affective Disorder

For people living in cold regions, energy and mood changes in winter have evolved into a part of their life. The condition was first identified as a treatable one in the 1980s. This was after Norman Rosenthal moved to the United States and observed a decline in his productivity during winter, with everything becoming normal in the spring.

Norman was working at the National Institutes of Health during those times. He also collaborated with other researchers studying the effects of light on circadian rhythms and melatonin. This collaboration gave findings that suggested that light could be useful for treating people with SAD.

In 1984, a tool was developed by Norman and colleagues, and it was called Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ). The questionnaire was designed for the retrospective self-rating of vegetative functions and changes in mood with seasons.

Symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

The common symptoms that people with SAD experience are symptoms like depression and mood changes. These symptoms manifest in many ways and may include the following:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Feeling worthless, guilty, hopeless, and having difficulty concentrating
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Feeling sluggish and having low energy
  • Weight gain due to overeating and high cravings for carbohydrates

As mentioned earlier, SAD also occurs during spring and summer in some people, and the symptoms include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Anxiety or agitation
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Insomnia

Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder

Apart from the reduction in sunlight, stress is also a factor that can trigger SAD. Stress is very tricky and can lead to many depressive symptoms. Also, depression can affect the way an individual handles stress. It becomes difficult for people with SAD to handle stress during the winter seasons, unlike during the summer and spring months.

People with SAD tendencies also find it rather stressful to get up early for work, start or finish projects, meet deadlines, and work long hours. Biological factors and environmental factors can also influence the predisposition to develop SAD. Females are generally more likely to develop SAD compared to males. Genetic predisposition also has a role to play in developing SAD.

There are many theories about the pathophysiology of SAD, and they include the following:

  • Abnormalities in genes that mediate sensitivity of the retina to light, and serotonin transmission
  • Altered circadian rhythms
  • Slow transmission in serotonin systems
  • Reduced sensitivity of the eyes to light

Treatment Options for Seasonal Affective Disorder

There are many options available for treating SAD, and among these symptoms include the following:

1.      Light Therapy

Light therapy is an option considered for treating Seasonal Affective Disorder. It involves increasing the light in your environment during the winter season. You can achieve this by going out in the morning and using lamps. Fluorescent light boxes are also a great option to consider using.

2.      Stress Management

Another option for people suffering from SAD is strategies for managing stress. Depressive symptoms generally exacerbate stress. Therefore, controlling stress is a great way to treat SAD. Options to consider for stress management include meditation and yoga. This can also include mindfulness, open-field meditation, loving-kindness, walking, and transcendental meditation.

3.      Exercise

As mentioned earlier, SAD causes a decrease in energy levels. However, exercising regularly is a great solution to managing SAD. There are many types of exercises to engage in. Regardless of the type of exercise you choose, it’s important to ensure that you make it a habit to enjoy the full physical and mental benefits.

4.      Psychotherapy/Talk Therapy

People dealing with SAD usually feel alone and isolated. Therefore, talking to someone can be helpful. Consider consulting a therapist to discuss your feelings if you’re dealing with SAD. You don’t have to spend huge money finding a therapist. There are many affordable options that you can consider using. Studies show that cognitive behavior therapy also helps fight the symptoms of SAD and reduces the chance of relapse.

5.      Diet

As mentioned earlier, SAD causes people to feel intense cravings for starch and sweet things, and overconsumption results in weight gain. These substances cause a brief boost in energy, and they can be lethargic and addictive. People with SAD are generally encouraged to eat diets that are high in vegetables, complex carbohydrates, unprocessed foods, and proteins. Vitamins, especially vitamin D, are also great for managing SAD.

6.      Antidepressants

Antidepressants are also a great option for people experiencing SAD. However, this should only be recommended in cases where the options above are ineffective. In Rosenthal’s study together with his colleagues, they highlighted that giving antidepressants in autumn helps in preventing the subsequent onset of SAD symptoms

7.       Relocation

If the symptoms don’t improve, you should consider relocating to southern regions to reduce these symptoms. This is a capital-intense option and an effective way to avoid SAD. Relocating will make it easier for you to manage stress levels and other SAD symptoms.

8.      Psilocybin-Assisted Therapy

Psilocybin and a couple of other psychedelic options are also considered as treatment options for SAD. There is much research evidence supporting this claim, and this is because of the potential for psilocybin to improve major depressive disorder and a range of mental conditions. Due to the similarities between non-SAD and SAD depression, it’s generally hypothesized that psychedelics are a viable treatment option for Seasonal Affective Disorders.


The winter season is generally a hard time for many, and the stress further worsens this that the holidays bring. As highlighted above, SAD is a condition that affects many during the winter months, and if you’re a victim of this condition, there are many ways you can treat them.

Understanding how to identify the symptoms of SAD is the starting point for treating the condition. It’s also important to know how to assess the symptoms, of which there are professional tools you can use. Alternatively, you can consult a professional therapist to understand further the symptoms of SAD and how you can improve them.

Among the options above, include using psilocybin and other psychedelics to treat the condition. There is different research evidence supporting the use of psilocybin for depressive symptoms. Today, psilocybin is widely applied for a range of mental health conditions. You can also learn more about psilocybin by reading our microdosing guide or visiting our online blog. Buy your psilocybin spores at Microdose Bros store for educational, research, and identification purposes. You can also buy magic truffles from our store.