Disclaimer: This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician or another qualified medical professional with any questions you have about depression or any other health condition. Do not start or stop taking any medication without first discussing it with a doctor.
In the United States, an estimated 16 million people suffer from depression, representing nearly 7 percent of the population. In the United Kingdom, researchers estimate that depression may affect as many as 4 percent of people. Globally, this disease represents the second most common cause of disability.
For those suffering with clinical depression, just getting up in the morning can feel like an uphill battle and, for many, antidepressants do not adequately relieve symptoms. This leads many to look for creative solutions to help manage their symptoms. Could CBD oil for depression be a viable option? Let's explore what research has to say.
What is depression?
Depression isn't just feeling down sometimes. It's a mental health disorder that often leads to trouble functioning in normal life settings, increased illness, more intense pain, suicide risk, chance of addiction, and memory problems. People with depression lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and generally experience feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and despair.
Why traditional antidepressants may not be enough
Many antidepressants have unbearable side effects, such as fatigue, anxiety and loss of interest in sex. On top of this, antidepressants must build up in the system. After starting them or upping the dose, it can take weeks to see any benefits. Approximately 40 percent of depression sufferers don't get adequate relief using antidepressants.
For those seeking a complement to their existing treatment plan, CBD may be a great option.
What is CBD?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of over 100 active compounds found in the cannabis plant. While cannabis is often associated with marijuana, it actually comes in many varieties, with various concentrations of different compounds. Marijuana has a high concentration of the psychoactive compound THC, which is what gets people high. But the hemp plant has less than 0.3% THC and large amounts of CBD. It doesn't cause altered mental states. It does, however, boost the mood positively, which is why many are exploring the benefits of CBD oil for depression.
How does CBD interact with the depressed brain?
Your brain has cannabinoid receptors that pick up signals transferred throughout your brain. You naturally produce cannabinoids, which travel and attach to the various receptors, carrying messages that let your brain know that everything's OK.
Unless you live a war zone where there's a reason to stay on guard, your brain should naturally feel OK or content most of the time. This is where the mind finds equilibrium, the heart rests, and relaxation can take place. You're not overly excited. But you're also not sad, angry or fearful.
As these receptors receive the message that everything is OK, your body releases dopamine and serotonin. These hormones make you feel better, not in a euphoric way, as one might experience with mind-altering drugs, but by providing a general sense of well-being.
These hormones work as your body's positive reinforcement system. Your brain is saying, "It's good to feel OK." You're relaxed but not too relaxed. You have more energy. You can enjoy yourself and interact with people.
Note that we haven't even mentioned CBD yet. All of the above happens naturally in your body without CBD. But in a depressed person, these systems aren't working effectively, which affects how the person manages stress.
CBD can help re-establish the communication channels in your brain so that you release healthy amounts of dopamine and serotonin into the body. Which can support:
- Healthy sleep and wakefulness rhythms.
- Balanced appetite.
- Better pain management.
- Feelings of motivation to embrace life positively.
Studies that support the benefits of CBD oil for depression
While many cultures have been using cannabis compounds as medicine for at least 5,000 years, it's only recently that we've begun applying modern scientific principles to better understand how cannabis-derived compounds such as CBD impact the brain and, more importantly, how effective they are as treatments.
A 2011 study showed us how important the endocannabinoid receptors are in regulating stress responses. This is important because it establishes why CBD may be effective.
A 2014 study showed that participants who received CBD oil experienced anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects from the oil.
A 2018 study showed that CBD offers quick relief of depression and anxiety symptoms and that the residual effects can last up to seven days.
A 2017 study examined real-world usage and found that 42 percent of CBD users eventually stopped taking their prescribed medications.
Note: Stopping antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications cold turkey is dangerous. Please consult your doctor before stopping these medications for professional medical advise and supervision.
How is CBD oil for depression administered?
CBD oil can be administered:
- Topically, as a lotion.
- Sublingually, as a tincture.
- Orally, as a capsule or tincture.
- Through vape pen.
People who need fast relief of acute symptoms, such as a panic attack, may get the quickest results with a vape pen when used as needed. But anyone looking for subtle, lasting relief, may want to consider taking CBD orally or sublingually once a day as their method of choice.
Topical application is generally only recommended for pain relief in a specific area, not for depression.
Why quality matters
Not all CBD products are created equal. Quality matters, always.
Here are a few things ask yourself for before you buy a CBD oil product for depression:
- Does the company perform rigorous testing by a third-party to ensure quality, effectiveness, and safety?
- Is it made using non-GMO ingredients? And is it safe from unnecessary additives and fillers?
- Is it made using legal, hemp-derived CBD with 0% THC?
- Is it batch-tested to ensure product consistency?
Here at Curaleaf Hemp, we follow the strictest industry standards to create pure, safe and effective CBD products.