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Can CBD Help with Depression?
Depression is a serious mood disorder that affects about 7.1% of the adult population in the US. The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliancereports 17.3 million adults and 1.9 million children each year suffer from depressive disorder. The disorder is more common in women than men and manifests as sadness, lack of interest, and can lead to loss of appetite and suicide.
Depression is treatable. Around 80% of people treated for depression show an improvement in their condition within a month or two with proper medication, therapy, support groups, or a combination of the three. Unfortunately, two out of three people suffering from depression don’t seek treatment, despite this high treatment success rate.
Most depression medications serotonin, a chemical messenger research suggests acts as a mood stabilizer. Most people’s symptoms do not go into remissionafter their first treatment and it isn’t uncommon for success rates to differ from patient to patient.
We cannot emphasize this enough: depression is a very serious illness that can have serious consequences if it is not diagnosed and treated properly. Under no circumstances should you attempt to self-diagnose and treat depression. If you think you’re showing symptoms of a depressive disorder, contact a physician or mental health professional immediately.
CBD has not been approved by the FDA to diagnose or treat any medical conditions or illnesses, and we are not suggesting that you should forego treatment plans outlined by your doctor. The purpose of this blog post is to present findings from recent academic studies related to depression and the endocannabinoid system. Do not make changes to your mental healthcare routine without consulting your doctor.
The Endocannabinoid System and Depression
The endocannabinoid system’s relationship with serotonin and other mood regulating chemicals has been a topic of scientific interest for some time now. Some research cited in CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis suggests that cannabinoids may have an effect on serotonin levels, although it’s not always a positive effect. THC, for instance, was found to cause an increase in serotonin levels at a low dose, but actually caused a serotonin decrease when the THC dose was increased.
CBD, however, has shown promise in clinical studies. One 2016 study concluded “CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug, via enhancing both serotonergic and glutamate cortical signaling through a 5-HT1A receptor-dependent mechanism.” That’s a lot of medical terminology to sift through, but it means there is potential. Again, this is just one study and not a scientific consensus, but it shows potential.
According to Dr. Michael Moskowitz, CBD improves activity in the endocannabinoid system by increasing the time anandamide, an EC signaling compound, works on CB1 and CB2 receptors. Dr. Moskowitz says anandamide works on serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine systems. It is primarily responsible for restoring balance, whether by increasing levels in these systems when they are low or inhibiting production when they are too high. He says this could point to CBD being a way to regulate anxiety and depression.
Researching CBD and Depression
The Cannabis Health Index, an evidence-based scoring system for cannabis’s effectiveness in treating health issues, gives cannabis a “possible-to-probable” rating on its efficacy for treatment of depression. This score is based on extensive research and data from 21 studies.
What this says to us is that, like with other ailments, the jury is still out. There is potential for cannabis and CBD-based treatments in the future, but we are still likely years from doctors and regulators reaching a conclusion in support of or against the use of CBD to treat anxiety. It’s something to keep monitoring, certainly, but it is not advisable to change your mental healthcare routine at this point in time.
We here at Smoke N Brew want to not only sell CBD products, but provide research and context in an easily understood format so you can make educated, informed decisions regarding your personal wellness. While it’s frustrating to get a “possible-to-probable” result and not a definitive yes or no answer, remember that this is a growing industry and field of research. We’re going to keep an eye on CBD and this will be the first place you’ll hear about any breakthroughs in the field.
This post cites information from CBD: A Patient’s Guide to Medicinal Cannabis by Leonard Leinow and Juliana Birnbaum