CBD for Depression: Does It Work?

cbd for depression

CBD is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis plant. CBD is similar to THC but both of them work differently in the human body. THC is responsible for making its users “High” or euphoric. Unlike THC, cannabidiol is a non-psychoactive compound that doesn’t cause “High” or feelings of euphoria.

Interest in using cannabis- especially CBD or cannabidiol for treating several mental health conditions has been on the rise for the last few years. Many Hollywood stars like Jennifer Aniston, kristen Bell are embracing CBD as an alternative way to ease their symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

A new study suggests that the buzz around mental health benefits of cannabinoids like CBD and THC has outpaced the science. Some researchers suggest, yet there’s insufficient evidence to claim that cannabinoids can improve symptoms of mental health conditions.

How Can It Help?

If you are looking into using CBD, it’s important to know that research around CBD is limited. Although there have been quite a few studies in the last decade, most of them were done using animals.

Therefore, you have to understand that the potential benefits of CBD oil for depression or any other mental ailments in humans are mostly speculative right now. Nevertheless, cannabidiol shows some benefits for depression, especially dealing with cognitive impairment, anxiety, and fear of public speaking. 

What Does the Research Say?

According to experts, positive effects of CBD on serotonin receptors in the brain may help with depression. Low serotonin level is related to depression. CBD doesn’t boost serotonin levels but it affects how the chemical receptors in the brain respond to the serotonin that is already in your system. 

According to a 2014 animal study, the effect of CBD on these receptors in the brain induced both antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects. 

A very recent 2018 review on the existing studies claim that CBD has anti-stress effects, which may alleviate depression connected to stress.

As mentioned, this area is still being studied and new research and reviews are published every year. As researchers begin to better understand cannabidiol and it’s benefits, information about how to use CBD products most effectively will keep up changing. 

How Does it Compare to Antidepressants?

When it comes to treating depression, cannabidiol seems to have some benefits over antidepressants. Most antidepressants take weeks to start working, but an animal study in 2019  found that CBD has a faster and long lasting antidepressant-like effect.

Antidepressants can cause side effects like insomnia, mood swing, agitation, sexual dysfunction, etc. However, CBD may result in fewer side effects.

Caution: Although CBD may offer some benefits over your antidepressant medications, do not take it as a replacement. Do not stop taking prescribed medication without talking to your healthcare provider. Stopping antidepressants abruptly may cause serious side effects. If you want to stop the prescribed medication, consult with the physician and come up with a plan for cautiously decreasing your dosage. 

What About Anxiety?

Most of the time, depression and anxiety occur simultaneously and people with one are more likely to have the other too. CBD is thought to help with both.

One study suggests, people who took 600 milligrams of cannabidiol experienced less social anxiety than the people who took a placebo. Another study found that a little dose of 300 milligrams of CBD also helped with anxiety. 

Anxiety may also have a connection with low levels of serotonin. Furthermore, CBD’s effect on serotonin receptors in the brain may explain these beneficial effects. 

Does CBD Cause Side Effects?

So far, CBD doesn’t seem to cause side effects, but some people may experience side effects like diarrhea, fatigue, changes in weight and appetite. 

One study suggests that taking CBD can cause liver toxicity in mice. However, some of the mice in that study received a high dosage of cannabidiol. 

Due to the lack of research in this area, it is hard to say if CBD causes any long-term side effects. So far, experts haven’t found any long-term risk yet. Remember, this doesn’t mean CBD doesn’t cause any side effect, but  the researchers haven’t encountered any yet.

In a 2017 review, the World Health Organization concluded  that CBD is generally safe and the adverse effects were the results of interactions between CBD and other medications.

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How to Use CBD 

How you will take CBD depends on your convenience and most importantly, on the condition you are going to take it for. Mainly CBD is available in four different formulations:

Oral: Tinctures, Capsules, Sprays, Oils are the oral form of CBD. These mixes can be used directly or can be used in other preparations like tea or coffee.

Edible: Drinks and foods like gummies. These widely available CBD infused gummies are gaining popularity among CBD users.

Vaping: This is one of the most straightforward delivery methods of CBD. It is available in different tastes. It works faster than many other forms of cannabidiol. However, there is some debate over the long-term safety of vaping CBD.

Topical: These CBD products are popular in the beauty industry. These are available in creams, lotions, moisturizers, etc.Topical CBD is also used to treat joint pain and many skin conditions.

The Bottom Line

CBD is becoming a popular choice for treating a wide range of health conditions including depression. If you are interested in using CBD, consult with your physician first. While some studies suggest it is safe to use, it may interact with other medications you are taking. Do your research on the product you are going to try and review the medications or supplements you are already taking.

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