Depression is a common but serious mood disorder, which causes many symptoms that affect how a person processes thoughts and feelings and how they manage even simple daily activities like sleeping, eating, and working. Depression often occurs in tandem with other illnesses, especially in patients who experience chronic pain.
An imbalance of chemicals in the brain is a frequent culprit of mood disorders such as depression. Cannabinoids — the active ingredient in cannabis plants — interact with these chemicals and their receptors. Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is an important cannabinoid that has the potential to provide significant and sustained relief from depressive symptoms.
What Is Depression and How Can CBD Help?
Depression is caused by both chemical and structural changes to the brain. When important neurotransmitters (or chemical messengers) fall out of balance, this leads to negative changes in thinking or mood. In some people, trauma or stress can activate certain areas of the brain while dampening others. For example, the fear center of the brain may increase activation, while the areas associated with executive function and memory may be underactive.
All in all, these changes upset the body’s ability to cope naturally. The medical use of CBD offers a novel and natural mechanism for treating depression. If the brain’s chemical balance is maladaptive, stimulating our so-called endocannabinoid system through the use of CBD encourages our bodies to respond to these changes in order to help re-establish homeostasis.
How Does CBD for Depression Work?
CBD for depression works specifically by stimulating receptors found in different regions of the brain that have been structurally or chemically altered. CBD acts on receptors to incite both excitatory and inhibitory actions. For example, suppressing cannabinoid receptors in the amygdala (the brain’s fear center) may help decrease unpleasant memories and ease feelings of anxiety or fear. CBD also reduces cortisol levels to help lower stress.
Besides suppressing negative actions, CBD can also activate positive changes like increasing the availability of the serotonin and norepinephrine. Elevated levels of these two neurotransmitters promote additional antidepressant, anti-anxiety, and anti-stress effects. This is notable since a popular mechanism of antidepressants is to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine.
How Do You Use CBD for Depression?
CBD can now be completely extracted from cannabis in order to minimize the influence of other cannabinoids, like THC, that have unwanted psychoactive effects. CBD isolate can be found in several forms, including oral, inhalation, and topical modalities. While some formulations are more potent than others, the most appropriate delivery method is ultimately up to individual preference.
It is important to mention that CBD is not a replacement for antidepressants and the decision to stop taking prescribed medication should be discussed with your doctor first. As research on CBD is relatively new, there may be adverse effects caused by interactions between CBD and certain medications.