Health & Wellness

Depression is a mental health disorder that is difficult to treat. CBD may change that.

By Mary Sauer
Jurien Huggins/Unsplash

In the United States, over 16 millions adults suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Society of American. Depression is a mental health disorder associated with persistent low moods. The symptoms of depression often vary from person to person, but can include feelings of hopeless, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, feeling worthless, losing interest in things you once loved, and brain fog.

The cause of depression is complicated. Genetics, life circumstances, medical conditions, and brain chemistry can all work together to cause depression. Because of the complex nature of depression, treating this condition can be equally as complicated. More individuals are turning to alternative methods, including using CBD for depression treatment.

How is Depression Treated?

Depression can be diagnosed by a general practitioner or mental health expert like a psychiatrist. After diagnosis, a combination of treatment methods is typically used to manage the symptoms of depression. Some of the most common treatments for depression include psychotherapy, antidepressants, and support groups. Making adjustments to lifestyles, like increasing physical activity or creating a support system of friends and family, may also be a part of depression treatment.

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are the antidepressants most often used to treat depression. Although these medications have been found to be safe for most people, they do come with side effects like dry mouth, decreased libido, trouble sleeping, and fatigue. Additionally, SSRIs may not be the right choice for some individuals because of potential drug interactions. These medications have also been found to increase suicidal thoughts in a small percentage of users during the first few weeks of taking the drug.

“Antidepressant medications have recently come under review because they have not been as effective short or long term for this illness,” shares Phillip Blair, MD, (Colonel USArmy retired) a family physician and advisor for Elixinol. “In addition, if antidepressants are effective it may take six to eight weeks before that happens.”

CBD and Depression

Research concerning CBD as a method for treating depression is only just beginning. There is evidence that suggests that this cannabis-derived product could be used to manage the symptoms of depression.

Up until this point, most of the research concerning CBD oil and depression has been done on animals. In 2010, a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology observed an anti-depressive effect in mice treated with CBD.

In 2019, the journal Physiology & Behavior observed similar results, specifically finding that CBD could help with symptoms of helplessness or difficulty experiencing pleasure.

In his professional experience, Blair has seen how CBD can help provide quick relief from the symptoms of depression.

“Often it provides very rapid help allowing people to feel better almost immediately, allowing relaxation and improving sleep quality,” he says. “CBD helps right away relieving many symptoms and improving one’s outlook.”

Should I Use CBD to Treat My Depression?

CBD oil has been found safe for consumption and is associated with very few side effects. The most commonly experienced side effects include fatigue, changes in appetite, and diarrhea. Making adjustments to dosage could eliminate these side effects completely.

Individuals who are interested in using CBD oil to treat their depression should speak with their healthcare provider first. A doctor who is knowledgeable of CBD can help you find the right dosage or determine if it is a safe choice for you. Blair typically recommends beginning with the suggested twice-a-day dosage on the product label and says that immediate improvement can be expected with the right serving size.

“CBD at usual serving sizes can be used with other drugs without fear of interactions,” he explains. “Once CBD relief is felt then you can consider working with your health care provider to de-prescribe those drugs that might not be helping in comparison with CBD.”

Before dropping other medications, a healthcare provider should always be consulted. It may be necessary to taper medications instead of dropping entirely and dropping medications may not be the safe or appropriate choice for everyone using CBD to treat depression.

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