A quick recap... what is CBD?
CBD, the shorthand for cannabidiol, is one of the many active ingredients in the cannabis plant.
Unlike the better-known substance THC, CBD is not psychoactive, does not lead to physical dependence and produces no psychoactive effects, i.e. it does not get you ‘high’ and will not lead to addiction. The World Health Organization confirms this in its 2018 where it states CBD is a safe substance.
CBD can actually be used for a wide variety of medical conditions as well as for general well-being. Much like vitamins. In addition to this people sometimes use CBD to keep calm and relaxed, for example when public speaking.
What's more, CBD is legal in the UK, but be sure of the contents of the specific CBD product you purchase.
There are a number of ways to take CBD, but the most common appears to be CBD oil, this may be due to its strength and to the fact that it is one of the most fast-acting methods. CBD oil tinctures normally come with a pipette, the CBD oil is administered under the tongue and should take effect within a few minutes.
Other methods include CBD topical cream, CBD vape liquid, CBD gummies and CBD chocolate. But the list is rapidly growing in line with CBD's popularity.
What are the symptoms of depression?
Depression is a mental disorder that is typically characterised by a number of symptoms:
- Sadness, hopelessness
- Disinterestedness and joylessness
- Loss of appetite, eating disorders
- Sleep disorders
- Loss of energy or fatigue
- Feelings of guilt and low self-esteem
- Reduced ability to concentrate
- Recurring thoughts of death, dying, or suicide
CBD and coronavirus
The coronavirus pandemic is inevitably piling pressure on people from all sorts of walks of life. It's a sad fact that, whether from the virus itself, the economic or financial pressures people face, or even the restricted social activities, everyone in our country is impacted by the pandemic and the Covid lockdowns.
Depression is a real threat for a lot of people, and professional advice and help should be sought by anyone at risk.
How can depression be treated therapeutically?
To treat depression, psychotherapy is regularly combined with specific medications (pharmacotherapy).
Examples of psychotherapies are cognitive behavior therapy, problem solving therapy and interpersonal therapy.
These treatment methods aim to support those affected in the independent development of positive thinking and behaviour patterns.
Medications used to treat depression belong to different classes and have different mechanisms of action, properties and side effects.
- Antidepressants belong to the group of psychotropic drugs.
- Antipsychotics and neuroleptics, which are used to treat schizophrenia and delusional depression, can be clearly distinguished from antidepressants.
- Anxiolytics / hypnotics are sedatives and sleeping pills.
Research suggests that these can alleviate depressive symptoms and anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety disorder. Nevertheless, it can often take weeks or more until the medication is in your system and you start to feel the benefits.
Whilst many people manage well with antidepressants, there can be some very strong side effects.
How could CBD work for depression?
Bear with us - we will get to CBD's potential role in this! But it's important to explain a few things first.
Antidepressants affect the effect of messenger substances. Put simply, this means that by taking this medication, the return of happiness hormones to cells is blocked. This generally increases the level of serotonin.
Research shows that in people with depression, a specific part of the brain - the hippocampus - is often reduced in size. The hippocampus is responsible for memory, learning and for emotions.
Antidepressants stimulate the regeneration of nerve cells and thus the neurogenesis of the hippocampus. However, an immediate cure should not expected.
Reconstruction of the nerve cells is a process that can take several weeks. Therefore, the effect of such antidepressants often occurs later.
Back to nerve cell reconstruction… which is where CBD comes into play because it has been scientifically proven that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system.
The hippocampus, which is found in the brain, often shrinks when said brain’s owner suffers from depression. This reduction (also called atrophy) could be counteracted by CBD by protecting the nerve cells.
Indications that CBD could help with depression
CBD therefore supports the protection and growth of neurons. But what does this mean in practice for the potential treatment of a complex illness such as depression with CBD?
Although large-scale studies in humans have not yet been carried out, there are some promising indications and experiments:
Medical cannabis: In the United States, where medical marijuana is available in some states, suicide rates in men aged 20-39 decrease by about 10%.
The Rimonabant case : A few years ago a weight loss medication was developed that works in exactly the opposite way to cannabis, namely rimonabant. The result of this is the inhibition of the body's endocannabinoid system. However, it was stopped shortly afterwards because it drastically increased the risk of depression and suicide.
Experimental studies :
Experiments on rodents are also promising. CBD helped relieve depression in rats.
Another study found that a single dose of CBD had a rapid antidepressant effect in both mice and rats that lasted up to seven days after treatment.
Another study concluded that the antidepressant effects of CBD in combination with an SSRI were even more effective in mice.
(We won't get into the ethics of testing on animals, but in case you're curious about how scientists measure rodent depression... they do it by swimming. The most common experiment is to put mice or rats in deep water and record how long they keep swimming. Those who give up faster are considered depressed. Don't worry - the scientists won't let them drown.)
Can you take CBD with antidepressants?
There are a large number of medications - including CBD - which are broken down by the same large family of liver enzymes. CBD inhibits some enzymes in this family. This makes them break down certain drugs more slowly, which could potentially increase side effects. There are some anti-depressants which are included in this category. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you discuss the use of CBD with your doctor.
Success stories with CBD and depression
Our success stories come from social media, other CBD websites or through people we know personally. Some people are comfortable sharing their names and products, others prefer to remain anonymous. We feel hearing other people's positive experiences are a vital part of learning about how CBD can help, although it is important to remember that not all CBD products work the same for everyone. Don't be disheartened if one product/dosage doesn't work for you... keep trying!
We'd love to hear your success stories! If you would like to share yours, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org