Depressive and Anxiety Disorders are commoner than we would like to admit, and have far reaching effects on a person’s health, social life, ability to work and general well-being.
Your doctor is able to prescribe a range of pharmaceutical drugs, which granted, will assist with depressive and anxiety disorders, but will come with a host of side effects in themselves, including sleeplessness, weight gain and sexual dysfunction.
Ongoing research has shown that CBD has a positive interaction with serotonin, known as our “happy hormone”, in the brain. Keeping serotonin levels balanced is one of the main goals in people with depression.
It is important to note that CBD does not CURE Depression, but it is linked to improvement of some of the symptoms linked to depression and anxiety. The body’s own endocannabinoid system, which helps regulate, (amongst other things), mood, binds to specific brain receptors, which potentiates the action of serotonin, and which in turn improves mood and decreases stress levels. When you take CBD, your endocannabinoid action is enhanced and the effects of serotonin potentiated.
Although serotonin is part of the big picture, depression is also linked to many other neurotransmitter imbalances. It turns out that when people suffer from depression a specific region of the brain can atrophy (shrink), and this area, known as the Hippocampus, is responsible for memory, learning and emotion. Fortunately this unique part of the brain is also capable of recovery, a process called Neurogenesis, and you would be amazed to know that our brain continue to undergo change our whole lives, an ability known as Neuroplasticity.
So how does CBD help contribute to this you may ask? CBD actually acts to protect neurons in the hippocampus, the exact area in the brain that atrophies in depressed people.
Scientists think CBD could help protect or regenerate the Hippocampus through the following pathways:
1. CBD increases the levels of Anandamide in the Hippocampus, which stimulates neuron
2. CBD increases brain derived Neurotropic growth factor (BDNF) in the Hippocampus – a
protein that helps neurons survive whilst encouraging the growth of new neurons and
3. CBD activates a type of Serotonin receptor (5-HT1A), which controls a wide variety of
other neurotransmitters and which then increases neurogenesis in the Hippocampus.
It has also been proven that CBD takes a much shorter time for effects to be seen, unlike with
conventional anti-depressant medications, which typically take weeks to produce the expected
results. Although human studies are still extremely limited, it appears that CBD works within
minutes to hours and its effects can last as long as 24 hours at a time (this obviously differs
from patient to patient).
It’s also important to know that CBD may help some people with depression but not others.
Depression is different in each individual. Firstly, always talk to your doctor about using CBD to
address depression. This is in part because there are other health conditions with symptoms
that can easily be mistaken for depression.
For example, if your mood is the result of a thyroid problem, you will need to approach your
In other cases your depression may be linked to something else. Take for example, the patient
with Chronic Pain – pain causes depression but because CBD can help alleviate pain, it allows
you to do more, and thus feel better. This would not be considered as clinical depression.
Another example is, in a cancer patient, facing a life-threatening illness and the side effects of
chemotherapy-features of depression are to be expected. Because CBD can help with
chemotherapy side effects and appetite, the patient’s mood can be lifted.
It is important to note that CBD is not a first line depression treatment but it is extremely useful
as part of a long-term recovery plan, in conjunction with diet and lifestyle changes, the
consideration of pharmaceutical medication (if required), and psychological support.