Depression is a mood disorder which affects millions of people in the world. According to the American Psychiatric Association, it is estimated that depression affects one in six people and one in fifteen adults, at some point in their life.
If you are suffering from depression, or have a relative or friend showing signs of depression, you will agree that this condition is one of the most devastating disorders one can face.
Fortunately, slowly but surely, many people who are suffering from depression are finding out that CBD is a natural, safe option for easing some of their symptoms.
First, let’s set the record straight, CBD cannot completely cure depression. Rather, research shows that it can interact with the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), a group of cell receptors which helps to regulate vital human functions like appetite, pain, mood, pleasure, and sleep among other things.
So, how do CBD interact with the ECS in order to alleviate the symptoms of depression?
The purpose of this article is to probe the answer to this query, mostly based on scientific studies already conducted. However, let’s first get a better perception of this disorder.
What is depression?
Depression can be a predisposed disorder or triggered by an unfortunate incident or trauma. No matter the cause, the signs of depression are usually the same: trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, feeling worthless, loss of interest in activities, feeling sad, and difficulty in concentrating, thinking, or making a decision.
While human neurochemistry plays an important role, it is usually argued that depression comes as a result of chemical imbalance in the brain. Scientists concur that levels of chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters) are minimized during depression; however, this reduction is a sign of depression rather than a cause.
Two of the neurotransmitters that are highly affected by depression are dopamine and serotonin. As earlier mentioned, it is normal for someone with signs of depression to have difficulties sleeping, have a lack of interest in activities, feel sad, and loss of energy.
Well, we know that dopamine and serotonin levels are affected by things such as stress levels, mental state, and diet. However, research also shows that a number of people suffering from depression have reduced dopamine and serotonin transmission. This is where consumption of CBD comes in handy.
CBD and Depression
CBD is one of the many naturally occurring elements contained in cannabis plants. Believe it or not, human bodies have an endocannabinoid system (ECS) with receptors, which specifically react to the cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis plant.
The CB1 receptor, the main endocannabinoid receptor, can be found in the human brain and the nervous system. Depression is largely entrenched in the body’s nervous system and is usually brought about by a chemical imbalance in the brain. Well, while depression can be caused by various factors, medical experts agree in it can inexorably affect a person’s nervous system.
Unlike the THC, the cannabinoid compound which intoxicates, CBD has a different, more solid interaction with the above brain receptor cells. Additionally, CBD has the ability to interact with other vital receptor cells, including dopamine and serotonin receptors. Therefore, when consumed, CBD influences brain activity and usually, the outcome is the release of dopamine and serotonin throughout the body.
Two recent studies carried out showed that CBD oil can be used to manage symptoms of depression. In one study carried out in 2011 that aimed to examine the modulation of the serotonin system via endocannabinoid signaling, scientists discovered that endocannabinoids are vital regulators of stress responses. Therefore, it can be assumed that, when one is depressed, CBD has the ability to control response to stressful situations.
Moreover, Jose Alexandre Crippa and his friends at Kings College in London and at the University of San Paulo in Brazil discovered that, at high concentrations, CBD activates the serotonin receptor, thus conferring an anti-anxiety effect.
While there are numerous independent studies and testimonials that offer those with depression hope for a natural, safe alternative, more clinical studies need to be carried out prior to it being considered as a sure alternative to conventional treatment. Remember, any changes to treatment must be made only after consulting a medical professional.