Depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the United States. Clinical depression is a mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest, often which interfere with or limit one’s ability to carry out life activities, sometimes leading to decrease appetite, energy, and suicidal thoughts.
The formal definition states that a depressive episode is: a period of two weeks or longer during which there is either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure, and at least four other symptoms that reflect a change in functioning, such as problems with sleep, eating, energy, concentration, self-image or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of American, depression affects 6 percent of the U.S. population each year, or more than 16 million adults, and anxiety affects 18 percent of the population. Common treatments including psychotherapy, medication, group therapy, and brain stimulation therapy. However, as existing research has shown that CBD oil may be able to help with both, more people are turning to this as an option. CBD has been shown in prior research studies to have the ability to reduce stress and anxiety, particularly in individuals suffering from PTSD, social anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.
CBD may also be specifically effective for depression related to chronic stress, causing a decrease in endocannabinoid levels.
Medications for depression typically target serotonin, a chemical in the brain that acts as a mood stabilizer and impacts emotions, motor skills, and plays a role in sleeping, eating, and digestion. Low levels of serotonin levels can lead to depression. Cannabinoids have an effect on serotonin levels, increasing production and stabilizing its presence in the body, and the endocannabinoid system has been shown to work similarly to serotonin, dopamine, and other systems.
Medications for depression typically target serotonin, which acts as a mood stabilizer. The endocannabinoid system has been shown to work similarly to serotonin, dopamine, and other systems. Cannabinoids also have an effect on serotonin levels, though the balance of CBD and THC is extremely important as the wrong dosage could worsen the condition.
Antidepressants typically take up to four weeks to show any significant effect, and can be ineffective for many patients. The ideal depression drug should be fast-acting and long-lasting, and cannabidiol may offer these important characteristics.
A study conducted in Brazil found that one dose of CBD in rats with depression symptoms eliminated the symptoms on the same day (proving its fast-acting properties) and maintained the positive benefits for a week (making it a long-lasting solution). The researchers submitted the animals to stressful situations after being injected with either CBD in various dosages, or a control saline group.
Seven days after treatment, there was an observed increase in the number of synaptic proteins in the prefrontal cortex, which is an area of the brain linked to depression in humans. A second study showed the effects of CBD also involve neuroplastic mechanisms in the hippocampus, also critical in the neurobiology of depression.
The hippocampus impacts our limbic system, which controls emotions, including fear, pleasure, and anger, and control basic drives. When suffering from depression, the hippocampus becomes smaller, but CBD can help to stimulate neurogenesis, creating new neurons in the brain.
The same researchers are now looking into other mechanisms involved with cannabidiol, including the effects in patients who do not respond to conventional therapy. They are also determining if CBD in combination with antidepressants could improve symptoms. There is a high potential that conventional drugs and CBD together could not only provide fast-acting relief, but could also improve the response to these drugs when taken together.
Hopefully, studies like this can soon be replicated in human clinical trials after showing such promise in animal trials. As with all diseases and ailments undergoing CBD treatment research, more research need to be done to determine and confirm a direct link between depression treatment and CBD, but the results so far have been promising.