CBD in the Management of Depression

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CBD in the Management of Depression

CBD for Depression Infographic
Click to view CBD for Depression infographic.

Feeling depressed is a common part of life. It is a normal coping mechanism of the human organism in the face of loss and disaster. The problem starts when depression lasts for an extended amount of time and/or prevents an individual from being functional in their everyday life.

Depression can manifest as chronic feelings of sadness and loss of motivation in all aspects of the patient’s life. Patients can feel overwhelmed with negative emotions and emptiness for no apparent reason. These major symptoms can lead to a myriad other emotional and physical problems that may have severe repercussions on the patient’s everyday life.

Clinical depression can have unpredictable effects that range from insomnia or sleeping too much, to overeating or not eating enough, to body aches and even heart attacks. Depression is not a condition that someone can simply “snap out of.” It requires proper medical attention.

Often called, clinical depression, major depressive disorder is a highly prevalent illness that can spiral out of control if left untreated. But it can be managed. According to CBD users, cannabidiol has a positive impact on people who suffer from depression.

How many people suffer from depression?

A 2014 CDC report claims that in the period between 2009–2012, 7.6% of Americans aged 12 and over had moderate or severe depressive symptoms. The most prone age group that showed signs of depressive disorder were females and persons aged 40–59.

The report also reveals that 3% of Americans over 12 years old have had severe depressive symptoms and that people living below the poverty level were almost three times more likely to develop depression than those above the poverty line.

Among the people who exhibited severe depressive symptoms, 43% reported serious difficulties in work, personal and social situations. Only 35% actively sought mental health counseling by a professional (which can cost $75-$150 per visit, on average).

Depression rates are higher among females than males in every age group. Another interesting fact that the study reveals is that rates of depression increase with age, before it begins to decline in adults aged 60+.

Specifically, depression rates by age group were: 5.7% among youth aged 12–17 to 9.8% among adults aged 40–59, with adults aged 60 showing a lower rate of depression (5.4%) than those aged 18–39 and 40–59. The highest rate of depression, 12.3%, was found in women aged 40–59, while the lowest rates of depression were for males aged 12–17 (4.0%) and 60 and over (3.4%).

What causes depression?

Scientists at Harvard University, have used advanced brain imaging such as PET scans and fMRI scans in order to get a closer look at the inner workings of the brain. Use of this sophisticated technology has led to a better understanding of the extent that brain imbalances have in the manifestation of depression. The areas of the brain that play a significant role in depression are the amygdala, the thalamus, and the hippocampus.

Depression and Brain Imbalances

Researchers at Harvard are trying to connect the dots between the slow production of neurons in the hippocampus part of the brain and feelings of depression. This theory is further supported by how antidepressants work: specialized medication immediately boosts the number of neurotransmitters in the brain, gradually improving the patient’s mood.

However, if depression was exclusively the result of imbalances of brain chemicals, then people would feel better immediately after they were administered medication.

Depression As a Side Effect

Depression can be triggered by a variety of emotional or physical issues. Severe life changes, grief from the death of a loved one, major illnesses can cause depression. There are also individuals with a family history of depression.

Depression is closely linked with anxiety. Some of the factors that can play a significant role in the appearance of depression in one’s life are:

  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Medication side-effects
  • Grief caused by death or a loss
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Major life events, such as the move to a new city or retirement
  • Serious illness
  • Substance abuse

How is depression diagnosed?

Depression can be diagnosed by a licensed professional, who can determine whether someone suffers from depression through counseling. This requires the patient to be open about their experiences and ready to accurately describe their symptoms. Depressed individuals often feel like they are not sick, or that there is no treatment for their condition.

Although in most cases there are no physical tests for depression, psychiatrists may require some tests in order to rule out conditions like thyroid disease.

How harmful is depression?

Depression can become dangerous if left untreated. 65% of people who suffer from depression in the US do not seek professional help. Untreated depression can cause serious problems in the patient’s everyday life by increasing conflict, causing lethargy, and increasing the chances of drug addiction.

Clinical Depression and Physical Health

There is mounting evidence suggesting that major depression poses risks to a person’s physical health. Studies have been exploring the connection between depression and patients that suffered strokes or heart diseases. The results have shown that recovering individuals who suffer from major depression have a more difficult time making healthcare choices and often fail to follow their doctor’s instructions.

How is depression treated?

The most common treatments for depression are through medication and/or psychotherapy. These two are often used together and yield favorable results. Essentially, psychotherapy reduces negative thought patterns that perpetuate depression, while medicine tries to balance hormonal activity in the brain.

It is highly recommended that people with depression stay physically active, as exercise naturally raises levels of serotonin in the brain. Research has proven that physical activity can be as effective as medicine in regulating symptoms of severe depression.

How does CBD help treat depression?

As studies on the beneficial effects of CBD pile up, it was only a matter of time before the medical community started to research the possibility of using CBD as a cure for depression.

A 2014, a study conducted with animal models proved that CBD has significant antidepressant and anxiolytic properties. Lab mice underwent a number of tests and results have shown that when treated with CBD, the subjects showed fewer instances of depression and anxiety.

There is no conclusive evidence that CBD can have a positive impact on depression, however, studies have shown that use of CBD can indeed impact the levels of serotonin in the body and improve sleeping patterns.

Research on the connection between depression and physical symptoms has proven that depression and pain share a common neurochemical pathway that are both influenced by serotonin and norepinephrine.

Previous research has proven that CBD has antidepressant effects that trigger the release of anandamide, a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling the serotonin levels in the human body.

Studies involving CBD and depression

CBD is the abbreviation for cannabidiol, the cannabinoid second only to THC when it comes to average volume. Recently, research has shown CBD to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects (the “high” or “stoned” feeling) that THC provides.

It is best to take CBD oil on an empty stomach for faster effect.

These are the known side effects of CBD:
  • Inhibition of hepatic drug metabolism/decreased activities of p-glycoprotein and other drug transporters.
  • Dry mouth.
  • Increased tremor in Parkinson’s patients.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Drowsiness.

Unlike “cannabis oil” (generally referring to high THC oil), CBD hemp oil is legal, and is not psychoactive, meaning that it does not cause one to “get high”. Responsible for this “getting high” effect is THC, a compound that is naturally found in thecannabis plant, but is not included in CBD Hemp oils above .3%.