CBD for 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.
Can CBD Help with Depression?
CBD is a naturally occurring cannabinoid from within the cannabis plant. On the contrary to THC, its psychoactive counterpart, CBD is largely legal due to its health benefits. This means that you can quite easily obtain CBD oil to treat a number of conditions. Furthermore, if you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, you will be able to purchase high-CBD strains of cannabis in order to self-medicate.
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.
CBD might be able to help with depression because it interacts with the body’s ECS to trigger certain neurochemical responses. When ingested, this 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, CBD could possibly alleviate symptoms of depression by stimulating these receptors in order to improve general mood.
Thanks to its stress-relieving and anxiety-reducing properties, marijuana could potentially be a viable option for depression sufferers who are at wit’s end when it comes to finding a treatment that works.
Studies to Back This Up
A number of studies are now coming from increasingly reputable sources, which back up the claim that CBD could help to alleviate 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. Since anxiety commonly pops up alongside depression, CBD could be ideal in treating this symptom.
- A 2014 study published on NCBI found that CBD produced effects resembling those of both antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications. Basically, this animal-conducted study showed that CBD has the ability to induce calmness in individuals, just as antidepressants do.
CBD vs. Antidepressants
Statistics show that conventional treatments for depression are failing, as more people than ever are using antidepressants to combat their condition. What’s more, antidepressants tend to have relatively severe side effects, including but not limited to:
- Weight gain
- Increased anxiety
Clearly, antidepressants do not always have the desired effect, and they can even increase anxiety levels. Many people even find that antidepressants do not work at all.
Even though both pharmaceutical drugs and CBD both target serotonin levels as a means of easing depression, anecdotal evidence shows that patients tend to feel better after using the latter.
CBD has less adverse side effects than antidepressants, and it tends to have a mood-boosting effect rather than removing emotion altogether, as some medications do. This means that CBD could treat your depression while providing an opportunity to live without anxiety and stress, and lead an overall happier life.
Clearly, it is important not to use any treatment as a crutch. Whether you decide to take the traditional route or opt for a cannabis treatment, it is important to try and alter your mindset along the course of treatment, rather than relying on external substances to regulate your mood for the rest of your life. Perhaps ingesting CBD while also attending self-help groups would be a productive, recommended route.
Dosage and Maintenance
CBD oil is the preferred option for many patients who choose to take the unconventional treatment route. There is a range of strength options available when it comes to CBD oil, and it’s important that you find the minimum effective dose instead of over-medicating.
This can take time, as CBD oil may take a few days to fully take effect, and you will need to start at a very low dosage and work your way up until you find a strength that works. The strength you require will depend on the severity of your symptoms.
If you decide that CBD oil is not for you, you can dry vaping or dabbing instead, as some people find these methods more suited to their individual biochemistry.
As far as oil goes, it is recommended to use full spectrum CBD oil so that you receive the full range of benefits that cannabis has to offer. However, some companies recommend purchasing a CBD isolate to use whenever you experience a flare-up of depression or anxiety symptoms.
Final thoughts on CBD Oil for Depression
It is quite apparent that CBD might be a possible solution for those suffering from depression. While many of the traditional treatments have severe, unpleasant side effects, CBD seems to offer a beacon of hope in that it has minimal side effects, as well as a host of potential benefits.
If you feel lost and hopeless in the course of your depression treatment, do some research and give CBD a serious consideration. With multiple trustworthy studies now backing up the claims that it can help relieve symptoms, it could very well be the answer that you’re looking for.