CBD For Depression - Will It Help?
Cannabidiol is one of the more than 100 chemical compounds (cannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant, but can you take CBD with antidepressants?
If you struggle with depression of any severity, please do not feel like you are alone.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 19.4 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2019.
CBD products have not been in the market for very long. However, they have gone mainstream, and demand is soaring steadily every year, thanks in part to a growing body of evidence that different forms of CBD may relieve the symptoms of depression.
CBD And THC
While CBD has a similar molecular structure as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the two cannabinoids offer different effects when consumed.
THC is the compound that produces a ‘high’ and feelings of euphoria when you consume cannabis. Comparably, CBD use does not cause these effects. Instead, CBD seems to help a user relax and unwind.
Below is everything you need to know about CBD and depression. We will also discuss if you can take CBD with antidepressants.
Can CBD Help With Depression?
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) notes that anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorders, and panic disorders, are the most common mental illnesses affecting adults in the United States.
Anxiety often coexists with depression because similar factors can cause the two emotional states.
Unfortunately, these disorders can be debilitating to a person’s emotional, physical, and behavioral well-being.
CBD And Antidepressants
Antidepressants or pharmaceutical drugs are the most common treatment options for depression.
Although they may help ease your symptoms, these medications are associated with potential side effects like;
- Heart rate problems
Research into CBD and depression is still in its early stages.
However, evidence from preliminary studies shows that CBD may be an effective treatment for depression and anxiety with fewer side effects.
These studies have mainly been done on animal models instead of humans.
Hence, more well-organized human studies are needed before researchers can determine whether CBD can fully replace clinical antidepressants.
How Does CBD Help Depression?
In most studies investigating why use of CBD may help alleviate depression, researchers found that it has a positive interaction with the serotonin receptors in the brain.
CBD acted as an antidepressant compound in the animal models.
Serotonin is the chemical responsible for stabilizing our mood, emotions, and feelings of happiness or well-being.
Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression, anxiety, and sleep problems.
Although CBD does not necessarily increase serotonin levels, it influences how the brain responds to the available serotonin in your system.
CBD Oil for Depression - The Science
The results of some animal studies investigating the effects of CBD oil on depression look very promising.
A 2014 review looking at the results from several studies concluded that CBD can offer anti-anxiety and antidepressant-like effects in animals of depression.
A 2018 review looked at multiple CBD studies and concluded that the cannabinoid possesses potent anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
CBD can potentially boost mood and concentration during stress.
The researchers also discovered that CBD can offer its effects without directly activating the cannabinoid receptors in our endocannabinoid system, hence a reduced risk of addiction
CBD clearly exhibited anti-stress effects after short-term or long-term use.
In another 2018 study, CBD showed promise as a fast-acting antidepressant.
There are even studies on the potential of CBD to help reduce cravings and anxiety in individuals with opioid use disorder.
Findings from these initial studies are a crucial step toward understanding how CBD works and its potential benefits or adverse effects on the human body.
Can CBD Help with Panic and Anxiety?
Current studies into the effects of CBD show that it may have potent benefits for panic and anxiety sufferers.
During a review investigating CBD as an alternative treatment for anxiety disorders, the authors concluded that CBD may effectively reduce anxiety and stress levels.
They also noted that CBD may be a possible remedy for anxiety disorders like;
CBD And Panic Attacks
Authors of a 2017 review investigating the potential benefits of CBD for people with panic disorder also found some promising results.
The authors noted that panic disorders affect at least 5% of the world population and are often associated with recurring panic attacks.
According to a study in the review, a single 300mg dose of CBD significantly lowered anxiety levels during a simulated public speaking test.
Another study in the same review found that a 600mg dose of CBD played an important role in reducing anxiety measures in individuals with social anxiety disorder.
Possible CBD Side Effects
CBD is generally considered safe for consumption.
But even though it appears to cause no side effects, users sensitive to specific compounds in CBD oil may experience the following:
- Changes in weight and appetite
According to one study published in the journal Molecules, consumption of high doses of CBD-rich cannabis products can lead to liver toxicity in mice subjects.
CBD has also been linked with potential interactions with specific medications, increasing liver toxicity.
Hence, you should talk to your doctor if you’re taking any medications, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and dietary supplements before implementing CBD oil into your daily regimen.
How Do Antidepressants Work?
The most common antidepressants prescribed worldwide are Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), also known as antidepressant medications.
These medications alleviate anxiety and relieve depressive symptoms by increasing the activity of specific neurotransmitters in the human brain.
How Do SSRI’s Work?
SSRIs medications inhibit or block the reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which acts as a mood stabilizer.
This means more serotonin will be available in your system to pass messages between nerve cells.
SSRIs also increase the activity of norepinephrine and dopamine, chemicals that also impact our mood and feelings of well-being, hence reducing anxiety and depression symptoms.
Activation Of SSRI’s
Antidepressants can take several weeks to build up in your system in order to feel their full benefits.
These drugs can cause negative side effects like;
- Dry mouth
- Increased appetite
However, the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) states that;
‘antidepressant medications help relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression in approximately 70% of the people who try them’.
And most users experience no unwanted side effects at all.
CBD Compared to Antidepressant Medications
CBD seems to offer some benefits over traditional antidepressants.
As mentioned above, it can take multiple weeks for a person to feel the effects of most antidepressants.
However, an animal study from 2019 found that CBD possesses fast-acting and sustained antidepressant-like effects.
Additionally, CBD is safe for most people with a lower risk of side effects compared to antidepressant medications.
For instance, while antidepressant drugs may result in known side effects like sexual dysfunction, agitation, and mood disorders, CBD does not show such effects.
Please note that although CBD provides some benefits over SSRIs, it should not be considered a replacement for prescribed antidepressant medications.
Suddenly stopping any prescribed medication can result in severe side effects, always consult your healthcare provider before making key changes to your treatment plan.
Is Taking CBD with Antidepressants Safe?
According to medical experts, it is safe to take CBD with antidepressant medications.
However, experts insist that more scientific studies are still needed to find out how CBD oil and SSRIs act on our bodies when taken together.
Perhaps the biggest concern when taking CBD with antidepressants surrounds how the enzymes found in CBD interact with our bodies and CBD’s potential to inhibit the system in the body that metabolizes antidepressant drugs.
The enzymes found in CBD are protein substances that have been shown to speed up the chemical reactions in our bodies, such as respiration and digestion.
This indicates that CBD enzymes can potentially cause your body to absorb a higher dose of an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.
CBD can also inhibit the system in our bodies that metabolize specific SSRI antidepressants.
This can interfere with how the medications are metabolized in the body if/when consumed with CBD oil, potentially reducing their efficacy.
How to Use CBD Oil for Depression
Perhaps you’re considering taking CBD with antidepressants?
Or maybe you want to try CBD oil on its own to help relieve depression symptoms?
In that case, the most important thing to note is that you should start with low doses and gradually work your way up.
CBD Dosage For Depression
A good place for CBD novices to start is 5 to 10mg once or twice daily.
From here, the general rule is to gradually increase your dosage by 5mg every 3 days or as needed until you find the ideal amount that effectively meets your needs.
Below are different ways CBD can be consumed:
- Orally: This includes taking CBD oil, tinctures, sprays, or capsules.
- Topically: CBD oil can be infused in beauty products such as creams, salves, balms, and lotions to be applied directly to the skin.
- Vaping: Vaping delivers a near-instant onset of CDB’s positive effects. However, this consumption method can cause side effects such as throat irritation.
- Edibles: CBD edibles are extremely popular right now. This includes drinks and foods infused with CBD oil, such as gummy bears, chocolate bites, and lollipops.
CBD With Antidepressants - The Bottom Line
According to the World Health Organization, depression is a common mental health disorder, affecting an estimated 5% of adults worldwide.
CBD is considered a safe chemical compound with negligible to no side effects.
Findings from multiple studies point toward its potential to help with many ailments, including chronic pain, depression and anxiety.
Medical experts suggest that it is safe to take CBD with antidepressants.
However, more clinical trials are still needed to determine how CBD and antidepressant drugs can work on the body when taken together.
A person considering using CBD with antidepressants or trying CBD treatment on its own to relieve depression should seek professional medical advice first.