Depression is a complicated condition impacting an estimated 300 million people worldwide. With a wide variety of symptoms from feelings of sadness and anxiety, to insomnia and lack of focus, depression can be difficult to identify and properly treat. In an effort to find effective, side effect-free relief, many people are turning to CBD oil as a mental health supplement.
Research into all the potential benefits of CBD oil is ongoing but current research has yielded promising results, specifically in the treatment and management of depressive symptoms.
Keep in mind, the information presented on this page is intended to serve only as an informational guide and should never be considered medical advice.
The cannabis plant is loaded with hundreds of cannabinoids including the commonly known tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). These cannabinoids impact the endocannabinoid system in the human body and can produce a wide range of beneficial outcomes.
While THC has some therapeutic benefits, it is most commonly associated with the intoxicating ‘high’ that people experience and associate with consuming marijuana. CBD oil does not have this same effect and will not get you high.
CBD oil interacts indirectly with the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the brain and central nervous system in a way that helps the body rebalance and reach a state of homeostasis. If you’re suffering from depression, CBD oil may be able to bring some stability to your mood, anxiety, and sleep patterns.
As mentioned before, the research into the use of CBD oil for depression is ongoing but the evidence as it currently stands, both scientifically and anecdotally, is encouraging.
CBD oil has an incredible potential for boosting mood and feelings of motivation. That said, the scientific evidence behind this as of yet has only been found in animal studies with CBD.
Anandamide is a neurotransmitter commonly called the “bliss molecule,” and is responsible for feelings of joy, happiness, and motivation. CBD acts as an anandamide reuptake inhibitor, which means it increases the amount of anandamide available in the brain increased levels of anandamide can decrease some of the lethargy, anhedonia, and fatigue associated with depression.
CBD also inhibits the reuptake of the neurotransmitter adenosine. Adenosine receptors play a role in the expression of anxiety and depression; when too little adenosine is present in your brain, you may experience anxious or depressive symptoms. CBD oil inhibits A2A adenosine receptors specifically, leading to increased amounts of the neurotransmitter in the brain, resulting in clarity and an elevated mood.
CBD oil activates a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A, which boosts serotonin levels in the brain. Low serotonin is linked to both depression and anxiety, and typically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are prescribed to increase the amount of this neurotransmitter available. Cannabidiol works similarly to SSRIs but does not carry the same side effects as traditional antidepressant medications.
Several studies have demonstrated CBD oil’s ability to reduce anxiety. A small, double-blind study was performed on humans diagnosed with generalized social anxiety disorder to measure the effects of CBD on their condition. After receiving doses of CBD, the study participants reported reduced anxiety. Brain scans were performed and the images showed changes in cerebral blood flow patterns, which correlated with lower levels of anxiety
CBD oil has also shown potential benefits for people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). CBD indirectly activates CB1 and CB2 receptors and as mentioned above, increases the amount of the “bliss molecule” anandamide available in the brain. Activation of CB1 receptors has been shown to decrease behaviors that are prompted by adverse memories. The increase in anandamide, coupled with a reduction in the response to traumatic memories, offers a great deal of potential for people suffering with PTSD. Furthermore, a comprehensive 2018 review of numerous studies on CBD’s ability to reduce PTSD-related responses concludes, “Human and animal studies suggest that CBD may offer therapeutic benefits for disorders related to inappropriate responses to traumatic memories.”
Sleep is incredibly crucial for your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Not only can can depression itself cause insomnia, but antidepressant medication can also have insomnia as a side effect. A lack of sleep can exacerbate the symptoms of depression. Getting the right amount of sleep can do more than make you feel rested—it can help you feel well.
Because CBD oil can reduce anxiety, stress, and emotions related to depression, it may help eliminate the mental roadblocks keeping you from a good night’s sleep.
In a 2019 study, researchers wanted to see if cannabidiol had any effect on 72 people with anxiety and/or sleep disorders. By the end of the three-month study, patients had been taking CBD daily and reported a 79.2% decrease in anxiety scores, and a 66.7% improvement to their sleep scores (although the effects on sleep were not consistent.
Tackling anxiety, sleep-related or not, is huge when managing depression. The additional promising result of better sleep scores further validates CBD oil as a potential supplement you can use to get the best night’s sleep possible.
On top of these benefits, CBD oil can reduce pain and inflammation that might be keeping you from falling asleep and staying asleep.
Glycine receptors are found in the central nervous system and play a significant role in your perception of pain. CBD has been shown in animal models to reduce neuropathic pain and inflammation in the body. If physical pain is keeping you from being able to fall asleep and stay asleep, CBD oil may be able to help.
The precise pathophysiology of depression is complex and our understanding of it is still evolving. Because of this, there is still ongoing research into why and how certain antidepressants work.
Chemical, or neurotransmitter, imbalances in the brain are thought to be a main contributing factor to depression. Most antidepressant medications work by increasing the presence of certain neurotransmitters that impact mood and emotion, like serotonin and norepinephrine, by blocking the reuptake of these chemicals.
Common types of antidepressants include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). You may have heard of Zoloft, Prozac, and Lexapro, all popular SSRIs, or Cymbalta and Pristiq, which are common SNRIs.
While SSRIs and SNRIs can temporarily relieve the symptoms of depression, they can’t cure the condition itself. These types of medications can also have side effects like:
For some, particularly people under the age of 25, antidepressants can even bring on suicidal thoughts and tendencies, usually when they are first taken or the dosage is changed. Too, if you decide to stop taking antidepressants like SSRIs and SNRIs, you may experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
CBD oil, on the other hand, is largely free of side effects and seems to be similarly effective as SSRIs and SNRIs but in a more natural and gentle way.
If you find your typical treatments are not working, it might be time to consider CBD oil for depression. Be sure to speak with your doctor, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist beforehand, as CBD oil can interact with some common medications, including antidepressants.
Oftentimes, the most effective treatment plans for depression consist of several complementary parts. CBD oil could be supplementary to other methods you may already be using to tackle depression like therapy and exercise. You’ll need to work closely with the medical professionals in your life to craft the treatment plan that best suits your needs. You might also consider speaking with a cannabis doctor who has a wider breadth of knowledge when it comes to using CBD as a health supplement.
The idea of speaking to your doctor about using a cannabis extract can feel awkward and uncomfortable but if you aren’t open and honest with your plans, you cannot get the answers you’re looking for. As more and more research is being done, the stigma that surrounds medical cannabis and cannabis extracts is rapidly fading.
When you have the go-ahead from your doctor to try CBD oil for depression, you’ll need to decide how you want to consume it. There are a number of different options including CBD oil drops, tinctures, edibles, capsules, and vapes.
Some people like the ease and convenience of using CBD oil drops. They are discrete, fast-acting, and portable, making them easy to use throughout the day should your symptoms become overwhelming. Similarly, vapes and e-cartridges are great for fast relief and easy use. Capsules can be taken two to three times per day and can be easily worked into your routine. You’ll just have to experiment with different delivery methods and decide which is best for your lifestyle and needs.
Just as no two people experience depression in the same way, no two bodies will respond to CBD oil in exactly the same fashion. For this reason, there isn’t a universal dosage for CBD oil in its treatment of depression.
We recommend that you begin with the recommended serving size listed on your product. If you’re having trouble finding a starting dosage, we at CBD Oil Review have analyzed hundreds of CBD products and come up with the following:
The CBD Oil Review Serving Standard is 25mg of CBD, taken twice daily.
If you are not getting results from this amount, we recommend increasing the serving size by 25mg every 3-4 weeks until you find relief.
For more information about dosage, check out our general dosage advice here.
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