What Is Depression?
Before one can begin treating or using CBD for depression, it is important to understand exactly what depression is. Sometimes depression is brought on by a sudden loss such as a death or divorce, or it can be triggered by stress from work or a big move. Regardless of the cause, the symptoms of depression remain the same.
Characterized by sadness, loss of energy, loss of motivation, insomnia, and worsening mood, depression can negatively affect ever facet of life. It can also affect mental faculties, leading to the inability to think clearly, increasing the risk of self-harm and even suicide.
While there are a number of depression symptoms, many medical professionals agree that in order to receive a diagnosis a person must exhibit five of the below eight symptoms for at least two weeks:
- Feeling worthlessness or guilt.
- Feeling extreme sadness and negativity.
- Significant changes in appetite.
- Either sleeping too much or having sleep difficulties.
- Noticeable loss of energy and fatigue.
- No longer experiencing pleasure in things you used to enjoy.
- An inability to concentrate or make decisions.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
It is apparent that depression is more than just a bad mood. Until recently, depression was treated as a neurochemical imbalance in the brain and immediately treated with drugs to target these imbalances. Now, scientists are realizing that perhaps there is more to these “deficiencies” than they had previously assumed. By turning their attention to prevention as opposed to treatment, the hope is that the real triggers at the root of the issue can be stopped before a full-blown depressive episode unfolds.
How Can CBD Treat Depression?
Since depression has many causes and can manifest is a variety of different ways, there is no single “cure” when it comes to treating it. However, research has recently emerged showing promise when it comes to CBD as an alternative to pharmaceutical drugs when it comes to combating depression naturally.
In the 1990’s, scientists discovered that the human body produces its own cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, helping to regulate a wide range of functions including mood, sleep, digestion, and many more. When a trigger like illness or stress causes an imbalance in the endocannabinoid system, these naturally occurring cannabinoids are released, binding to the receptors and sending messages to the cells to return to homeostasis.
While this system usually does a good job of functioning on its own, certain people produce less of these healing cannabinoids. This disrupts the endocannabinoid system, creating issues in the body and mind that can manifest as more serious diseases if not caught early.
CBD may be able to help those suffering from depression, in large part thanks to the cannaboid’s effect on serotonin. Once CBD binds to the receptors in need, serotonin is released in turn alleviating stress and enhancing mood.
The Evidence Supporting CBD for Depression
While there aren’t many studies on CBD due to FDA regulations surrounding the cannabis plant, several trials have shown promise when it comes to using CBD to treat depression. A 2010 study on mice concluded that CBD has “antidepressant like effects comparable to Imipramine,” a common antidepressant drug. The mice were put through swimming tests to determine motivation, and the results showed that the mice who took CBD before physical activity showed better performance.
Another 2016 study on mice showed the same evidence – mice who were administered CBD were more active and motivated than those who hadn’t taken the cannabinoid, supporting the theory that CBD may very well be an effective solution when it comes to treating mental issues surrounding depression.
In 2011, researchers studying the endocannabinoid system looked at how CBD could help mitigate symptoms of depression. They concluded that “a deficiency in endocannabinoid signalling is sufficient to produce a depressive-like phenotype.” They concluded that when it came to regulating the endocannabinoid system with CBD, it produced effects that were similar to conventional antidepressant drugs.
These are just but a few of the numerous studies out there on CBD, but the conclusions drawn almost unanimously support the theory that CBD may just be an effective treatment for depression and other mental health issues.