Are you one of the many individuals in the US experiencing depression? You’re not alone. Everyone has experienced these mental pathologies at least once in their life even though some cases are severe. Many people have an interest in CBD for depression and anxiety because often medications and traditional treatments fail to control mood disorder symptoms well.
Depression and anxiety are two of the biggest mental health afflictions today. According to the World Health Organization, over 264 million people worldwide suffer from depression around the world. The United States alone has at least 7.3 million people suffering from depression.
Generally, there are many life scenarios that get people anxious or sad, but if it happens frequently and disrupts work, relationships, and daily activities, those are signs of mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. When left untreated, depression can have debilitating effects on the affected person.
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How It Works: CBD for Depression
There are several traditional treatments for depression which include regular exercises, joining self-help groups, leveraging talking therapy, using antidepressant drugs, consulting mental health care professionals (like psychiatrists and therapists), and even a combination of treatment options.
However, scientists are doing extensive research to find alternative ways of treating anxiety and depression. One of their first discoveries in recent years is CBD. CBD (also known as cannabidiol) is one of the 400 different chemicals the marijuana plant produces.
CBD is of interest for health purposes because it has low levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol). The low levels of THC decrease the risk of aggravating the anxiety through THC's psychoactive effects.
CBD interfaces with the body’s natural endocannabinoid system (ECS) which is located through the brain and body. The ECS is responsible for helping to regulate several functions in the body like appetite, memory, sleep, and even moods. It does this by influencing the way neurotransmitters signal and communicate with the rest of the body.
It is thought that CBD helps to balance the body when it’s overworking or pushing too hard. Specifically, CBD can help to balance serotonin because it interacts with the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A.
CBD for Depression Research
It may surprise you to learn that while there is quite a bit of research on how CBD interacts with receptors in the body, most studies are done on animals. There is actually very little human research on CBD for depression! With time, and public demand, this is beginning to change.
Silote, et al. (2019) are one of the few research teams who have published human-focused research on CBD for depression. They evaluated the neurotransmitter systems involved in depression, including the serotonergic, glutamatergic, and endocannabinoid systems. Their findings are summarized below:
• Cannabidiol has a dose-dependent antidepressant-like effect in different animal models and species.
• The mechanisms involved in the behavioral effects of CBD are complex and might involve serotonergic, cannabinoid and neuroplastic mechanisms.
• Clinical studies are needed to investigate the potential antidepressant effect of CBD.Silote, G. P., Sartim, A., Sales, A., Eskelund, A., Guimarães, F. S., Wegener, G., & Joca, S. (2019). Emerging evidence for the antidepressant effect of cannabidiol and the underlying molecular mechanisms. Journal of chemical neuroanatomy.
Final Thoughts on CBD for Depression
As the team points out, more research is needed indeed. CBD is not an FDA approved treatment for depression (or any other condition, except in the case of Epidiolex). It also has no official standardized dose, so it is impossible for consumers to know at what dose those effects are seen.
The strange thing is that if these factors were clear, it would be likely that CBD would not be so easily available! Yes, if CBD was an FDA approved treatment with pharmaceutical dosing standards it could not be sold at retail like it is today.