The use of CBD-infused therapeutics has recently experienced a drastic surge in popularity. Of its many potential applications, consumers in record-breaking numbers are beginning CBD regimens to help alleviate symptoms of depression and other psychological disorders. In this article, we discuss how researchers believe CBD affects depression by analyzing various scientific studies and their conclusions.
What Causes Depression?
Depression is a terrible psychological condition that affects not only the individual diagnosed but their loved ones as well. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) estimated that as many as 17.3 million people, or 7.1% of the U.S. adult population, experienced at least one major depressive episode in 2017.
It is still a widely believed misconception that depression results solely from a chemical imbalance, more specifically a serotonin deficiency, within the brain. While serotonin certainly plays a role in the development of depressive symptoms, there is a myriad of other influences that could potentially contribute to one’s risk of developing a depressive disorder, such as:
- Stressful life events
- Physical pain
- Chronic stress
- Physical illness
- Social isolation
- Other emotional and psychological disorders
Considering these varying avenues, each of which could lead to a depressive disorder if left unchecked, it should come as no surprise that there are multiple treatment options available.
Recovering from Depression
Traditional anti-depression therapies typically involve pharmaceutical medications classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Despite causing an immediate spike in serotonin levels, SSRIs take several weeks before mood improves, if it does at all (they don’t work for everyone). Therefore, serotonin levels are not solely responsible for developing and healing from a depressive disorder.
Recovering from depression is a personal and highly individual journey. Multiple long-term treatment approaches, such as self-care programs and holistic lifestyle changes, typically yield superior results. Enter CBD.
What Is CBD?
For those who may not already know, cannabidiol (CBD) is a 100% natural oil-based compound secreted by both hemp and cannabis plants. Most oils, however, are extracted from the hemp plant to retain a solid legal standing. CBD allows consumers a way to harness some of the medicinal properties of the cannabaceae family of plants with no intoxicating, or “high” effect.
CBD for Depression
In addition to a wide variety of other potential health applications, CBD demonstrates promising results as a possible treatment for depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders – at least in an animal model.
Researchers believe that CBD possesses potent anti-depression and anti-anxiety characteristics, which appear to be generated by its positive interactions with serotonin receptors within the brain. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter produced within the intestines and brain, impacts a variety of biological functions, such as establishing one’s emotional state and generating feelings of happiness and general well-being.
In addition to the myriad of first-hand testimonials and personal success stories easily found online, various scientific conclusions demonstrate similar effects within animal models:
- A 2014 review analyzed the results from a range of scientific studies. Researchers concluded that CBD shows potent anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effects.
- A separate scientific review conducted in 2018 reaffirms this claim by recording the anti-depressant and anti-anxiety activity of CBD. Authors additionally note that CBD is effective after short or long-term use and that it demonstrates a minimal risk of becoming addictive or otherwise habit-forming.
- Finally, results from a 2018 study indicated once again that CBD demonstrates exceptional promise as an effective and fast-acting anti-depressant.
Researchers continue to demand more in-depth studies of CBD within a human model. These initial results, however, are essential toward establishing our understanding of how CBD works within the body.
Is CBD Safe?
According to the World Health Organization, CBD is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile. The report continues to state that the use of pure CBD oil is non-habit forming and is not linked to any severe adverse health reactions. Very few consumers, however, have reported the following mild and easily manageable CBD side-effects:
- Dry mouth (associated with a decrease in saliva production)
- A slight initial drop in blood pressure
- A short dizzy spell (likely linked to the initial reduction in BP)
Always consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any supplemental health regimen, especially if you are already taking prescription medications.
Anecdotal evidence and first-hand testimonials aside, the overwhelming majority of CBD-focused researchers continue to demand more in-depth studies within a human model for various potential therapeutic applications, including its possible use as an anti-depressant. These initial results, however, are crucial to our understanding of how CBD and other cannabinoids interact and influence the body for naturally therapeutic symptom relief.