According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), up to 16 million American adults experienced a ‘depressive episode’ in 2012.
That figure equates to almost seven percent of the U.S. adult population. Overall, approximately 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, which is a leading cause of disability. While regular treatments such as therapy and medication continue to remain popular, CBD is now mooted as a possible solution.
There is an increasing body of evidence which suggests that CBD may be an effective method of treating depression. Moreover, CBD is less likely to cause the negative side effects associated with traditional medication. Keep reading to learn more about depression, and to discover whether CBD could be a viable form of treatment for you.
What is Depression?
Although depression is a complex disorder, it can best be described as a medical illness that has a negative impact on how you feel, think and act. As well as causing profound sadness, depression prevents you from enjoying activities that you once loved. If left untreated, depression can lead to an array of physical and emotional problems, as well as reduce your capacity to function at home and at work.
There are a number of depression symptoms, and not everyone will have the same ones. Here is a list of some of the most common:
- A feeling of worthlessness or guilt.
- Feeling extremely sad and negative.
- Significant changes in appetite; either eating too much or too little.
- Either sleeping too much or having difficulties sleeping.
- Noticeable loss of energy (or obvious instances of fatigue).
- No longer taking pleasure in things you used to enjoy.
- An inability to concentrate, think or make decisions.
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
DID YOU KNOW: Medical professionals assert that a person must display at least five of the above symptoms for at least two weeks to be diagnosed with depression?
Living with Depression
Depression can manifest itself in various ways depending on the behavioral nature of each individuals, but there are several “standard” or identified forms of depression, which include the following:
- ‘Major’ depression.
- Bipolar depression.
- Chronic depression.
- Psychotic depression.
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (Also known as SAD or seasonal depression).
- Postpartum depression.
- Substance-induced mood disorder (SIMD)
The type of depression you have will dictate how you can cope, but typically, individuals with depression can also have illnesses related to the condition. These ailments include Panic Disorders, Eating Disorders, Phobias and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
Also, it isn’t unusual for patients with depression to have physical symptoms such as back pain, joint pain, sleep changes and gastrointestinal problems. This is because of brain chemicals such as norepinephrine and serotonin which influence mood and pain.
DID YOU KNOW: People with depression are more likely to commit suicide? Anywhere between 30-70% of people who commit suicide have major depression, or some form of bipolar disorder.
Those who suffer from the condition describe it as ‘living with a massive weight on your chest’. There are times when you want to get up and do something, but you simply can’t. First and foremost, if you receive a diagnosis of depression, take it seriously and don’t try to ‘shake it off.’
Secondly, make sure you seek help and support; it is vital to realize that you’re not alone during this difficult time. Also, when seeking treatment, don’t limit your options. There are an increasing number of ways to combat depression, and there is certainly no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Traditional Depression Treatments (That Don’t Involve CBD)
Depression is no different from any other illness insofar as treatment should be tailored to an individual’s specific diagnosis. The goal of any treatment plan is to help a person manage the symptoms, and hopefully reduce them over time. However, the most common forms of treatment, regardless of the form of depression, are psychotherapy and medication.
Psychotherapy as a treatment for depression
There are a variety of treatment techniques involved in psychotherapy for depression. Typically, patients speak to a licensed and trained therapist who helps them identify and work through the issues that are causing the depression. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) replaces negative thought patterns with realistic and more positive ones.
The goal of psychotherapy is to help patients understand the various aspects of the issues that are causing the condition. It also helps them to restructure the way they think, regain a sense of control and pleasure in life, and learn problem-solving and coping skills.
prescription Medication as a treatment for depression
Research suggests that medications such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work well in terms of helping people with depression and anxiety disorders.
DID YOU KNOW: Over 10% of Americans take antidepressants, which are the most commonly used medication among people aged 18 to 44?
CBD for Depression: How Does it Work?
As we mentioned above, a huge number of Americans take antidepressants – but these drugs are not always effective. In fact, an estimated 33% of depression sufferers admit that medication does not offer relief. Moreover, it’s no secret that antidepressants can cause some fairly unpleasant side effects.
Small wonder then that people are searching for an alternative form of treatment; and an increasing number of studies suggest that CBD could be the solution. Unlike the cannabis compound THC, which offers relaxation but with psychoactive effects, the CBD found in cannabis provides relief without any form of a debilitating ‘high.’
Humans (and indeed most animals) have what’s known as an endocannabinoid system that responds to the cannabinoids found in marijuana. Our main endocannabinoid receptor is known as the CB1 receptor, and is found throughout the nervous system and also in the brain. Decades of research suggests that depression is attributable to a chemical imbalance in the brain, and moreover, it is widely known that the condition is rooted in our nervous system.
| “The body of evidence that supports CBD as a viable alternative to antidepressants is growing.”
Admittedly, testing has yet to be performed on humans, but initial experiments on lab rats and other animals have yielded encouraging results.
A 2010 study, for example, involved treating OBX mice with CBD, and the results were astounding. Not only did the mice show almost immediate improvements, but their hyperactivity stopped within 30 minutes of CBD consumption. Remember, hyperactivity is a common depression symptom in humans.
Another study from 2014 used animal models as a means of showing the potential for CBD to be used as an effective antidepressant. After the subjects in the study were treated with CBD, they were exposed to a variety of complex, stressful scenarios, and it was observed that the animals who consumed CBD had fewer cases of anxiety and depression-related symptoms.
Final Thoughts About CBD for Depression
Although there is still much research that needs to be completed, the early signs of CBD for depression are good. And indeed, if CBD does in fact turn out to be an effective antidepressant that gains FDA-approval, this would be excellent news for patients that are forced to take addictive prescription medications.
While antidepressant drugs are effective in certain cases, their long-term side effects are occasionally dangerous. Moreover, antidepressants are exceedingly expensive, and the adverse side effects from trying to ‘wean’ yourself off of them can range from mild to severe.
To date, there is no evidence that CBD is addictive or dangerous. We can only hope that it is simply a matter of time before actual clinical trials are performed, and if the results are as positive as recent testing on animals has been, the era of potentially harmful SSRIs could be coming to a quick end.
Imagine a scenario where the world’s most effective antidepressant is growing naturally all around us!
For the countless thousands of people who already used CBD for depression on a daily basis, it is not hard to do so.
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