CBD For Depression, Does It Work?
According to the World Health Organization, there were 16.1 million Americans over the age of 18 who suffered from a depressive episode at least once in 2015. In Europe, the numbers are just as depressing – an astounding 25% of our friends on the other side of the pond suffered from depression or anxiety.
The condition is typically treated by the medical community with both anti-psychotic pharmaceutical drugs, and antidepressants that contain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Recently however, cannabidiol (CBD) has gained popularity as a natural, alternative treatment for depression. Clinical studies on the plant compound strongly support and even encourages its use in this regard.
Studies on CBD indicate that it has the ability to interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system to reduce the symptoms of depression. Pre-clinical research indicates that CBD has powerful antidepressant potential. Keep reading to find out how CBD can ease depression for you or the loved ones in your life.
What Is Depression?
Before the treatment of depression with CBD can even be considered, one must first understand on what depression actually is. Depression can be caused by any number of things, such as the loss of a loved one or divorce, but regardless of the cause, the symptoms of depression remain the same.
Depression is characterized by sadness, loss of motivation, loss of interest, loss of energy, restlessness, dampening of the mood, and insomnia. Depression can affect mental faculties, leading to concentration issues, a reduction in the ability to think clearly, and it’s an obvious major risk factor for self-harm, suicide, and it has poor overall health outcomes.
Depression is usually oversimplified as a neurochemical imbalance in the brain, and it’s treated with drugs that target those imbalances. Yet, many scientists believe these “deficiencies” are just symptoms and not the true cause of depression. That’s why they’ve turned their attention to preventing depressing, and minimizing the real triggers and causes behind it.
Can CBD Actually Cure Depression?
Depression has many causes and many faces, which is why there’s no one single “cure” for it. However, CBD for depression has shown significant promise as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs when it comes to helping to treat the condition.
In the 1990’s scientists discovered that the human body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, which are aided by the consumption of healthy fatty acids that are found in nuts, seeds, and fish. These cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, which was discovered in conjunction with the cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system is made up of a network of cell receptors and molecules that help regulate and balance functions like mood, memory, appetite, sleep, and pain-sensation. When cannabinoids bind to receptors in the brain, they help augment serotonin, a neurochemical which has been shown to help relieve stress and improve moods.
How Does CBD Treat Depression?
The symptoms of depression are improved by CBD because of its ability to help release serotonin, and enhance the activity of the receptors that serotonin binds itself to. The two work synergistically together, and produce the calming, relaxing effect that has been typically associated with with CBD usage.
Where’s The Scientific Evidence?
Most of the studies on CBD have been conducted on animals due to the legal issues surrounding the cannabis plant. However, now that hemp-derived CBD derived has gained the protection of legal status, human trials on the compound are likely set to increase.
A 2010 study on lab mice showed that CBD had “antidepressant like effects comparable to Imipramine,” a common antidepressant drug. The mice were put through a swimming test to determine how CBD affected motivation, and the results showed that it had a positive affect on their physical activity. The results were duplicated in a 2016 animal study, which also concluded that CBD was an effective antidepressant after the mice appeared to be more active and motivated after receiving an oral dosage of CBD.
In 2011, researchers looked at how the endocannabinoid system can help mitigate the symptoms of depression. Scientists concluded that “a deficiency in endocannabinoid signalling is sufficient to produce a depressive-like phenotype.” It appeared that regulating the endocannabinoid system with CBD produced effects that were similar to conventional antidepressant drugs.
Although these studies don’t point to any one particular CBD brand that is effective for depression, quality is of the utmost importance. Consumer reviews point to established brands like Charlotte’s Web, and newcomers like PureKana and Bliss Herbal, as companies that source their CBD from quality hemp.
These are just but a few of the numerous studies out there, but the conclusions drawn almost unanimously support the use of CBD as a treatment for both anxiety and depression.