CBD & Depression: What You Need to Know
What is depression?
Depression is a mood disorder that effects approximately 6.7% of American adults during any given year. Everybody feels sad at times, but this is not classified as depression. Instead, this disorder is categorized as long periods of feeling down, persisting for weeks or months at a time. It is a little understood condition, which is why it is often trivialized by people who have not experienced it.
However, depression is a very serious condition that can have devastating effects if left untreated. Symptoms of depression can include:
- Feelings of unhappiness and loneliness
- Lack of interest in things you used to enjoy
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling tearful and anxious
- A decrease in appetite or sex drive
- Physical aches and pains.
Depression affects everybody in different ways, which makes it difficult to diagnose. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, in which case the individual may find it extremely difficult to get out of bed.
If you think you might have depression, there are some online tests you can take that might point you in the right direction. That said, it is best to visit your doctor and get a professional opinion.
What Causes Depression?
Triggers for depression can include:
- A life-altering event (such as a bereavement, getting fired, or even childbirth)
- Ingesting substances like alcohol and drugs
Sometimes, however, depression has no direct cause. Anybody can become affected at any time in their life. You are more likely to experience depression if you have a family history of the condition.
Traditional Treatments for Depression
There is a variety of treatments currently being used for depression. These vary depending on your doctor’s specific opinion, as well as the severity of your condition.
Waiting it out
Some doctors simply recommend waiting until the depression goes away on its own while they monitor your progress. This is only suggested in cases of very mild depression, usually if they were triggered by a specific event.
Changing your diet, making more time for yourself, and exercising more are all ways that you might be able to treat depression. These are ways to boost your mood naturally without having to take serious measures, and they are shown to work for many people.
If your depression could have been caused by imbibing substances like drugs and alcohol, then a doctor will recommend that you give up activities like drinking and smoking to ease the symptoms of low mood.
Talking is often helpful for sufferers of depression since they are able to feel less lonely and more supported. Local self-help groups are usually available for you to attend freely.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
Depression that isn’t improving could be treated through CBT. This involves talking to a psychiatrist or counselor to help you change the way you think about life. Rather than just talking about your feelings, a professional can help you to somewhat rewire your brain into working more positively, making you feel better.
For severe depression, antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be prescribed. There are more than 30 different types that a doctor may prescribe, however these medications have many adverse side effects, and don’t necessarily make you feel “happy,” just a little less anxious.
Some doctors may recommend taking antidepressants as well as attending talking therapy sessions, especially if your depression is quite severe. This usually works better than just one treatment.
What About CBD?
Our body contains endocannabinoids that we produce constantly. These interact with the Endocannabinoid System (ECS), which has been shown to regulate a variety of biological functions including sleep, pain, internal temperature, and mood.
When ingesting CBD the compound interacts directly with serotonin and dopamine receptors, which control different symptoms of depression:
- The serotonin receptors control sleep, appetite, mood, and pain.
- The dopamine receptors control motivated behaviors.
Since all of these functions are affected by depression, could CBD possibly alleviate symptoms of depression by stimulating these receptors in order to improve general mood? Let’s find out…
Recent studies on CBD and Depression
A number of studies are now coming from increasingly reputable sources, which back up the claim that CBD could have an effect on the symptoms of depression. Here are just a few of the most recent publications:
- A study published by Neuropharmacology looked at the modulation of the serotonin system through activation of the ECS. Researchers discovered that endocannabinoids “are important regulators of stress responses.” In other words, cannabinoids – including CBD – can help to regulate stress.
- At the University of San Paulo and King’s College London, Jose Alexandre Crippa conducted a study which found that CBD directly activates the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor, producing anxiety-reducing effects.
- A 2014 study published on NCBI found that CBD produced effects resembling those of both antidepressant and anti-anxiety solutions. Basically, this animal-conducted study showed that CBD has the ability to induce calmness in living species, just as antidepressants do.
CBD vs. Antidepressants
While antidepressants seem to be everyone’s go-to medicine today, they can cause side effects, including but not limited to:
- Weight gain
- Increased anxiety
CBD has less adverse side effects than antidepressants, and it tends to have a mood-boosting effect rather than removing emotion altogether.
Does this mean that CBD could help with depression?
Clearly, it is important not to use any treatment as a crutch. Also remember, CBD hasn’t been officially proven to treat depression.
Final thoughts on CBD Oil for Depression
It is quite apparent that CBD could be an option but unfortunately as of now, probably not an official treatment. If you feel lost and hopeless in the course of your depression treatment and decide to go down the CBD route we would be more than happy to hear how it went. Feel free to let us know in the comments below.