CBD has grown significantly in popularity over the years, largely for its ability to relieve the symptoms of a vast range of conditions. Recently, there has been significant anecdotal evidence along with early official research indicating that it has therapeutic potential to help those suffering from depression experience relief from their symptoms, in addition to its ability to help with other medical condition symptoms. As mentioned, research on this connection is still in the early stages, but there is a great deal of promise.
What Is CBD?
CBD stands for cannabidiol. This natural chemical compound is one of the over 100 cannabinoids that occur naturally in the cannabis plant.
Compared to THC
CBD is commonly compared to THC, another of the plant’s primary cannabinoids. The latter, an abbreviation for tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main psychoactive component in marijuana. By contrast, the former has no psychoactive properties. This means that using CBD for depression will not result in any psychoactive effects.
There are two potential sources of cannabidiol, either from the marijuana plant or the hemp plant, both of which are types of Cannabis sativa. When derived from the latter, it is unlikely to contain high quantities of the psychoactive component. The legal classification for hemp requires the plant to have less than 0.3 percent of this component.
Depression Symptoms CBD Can Relieve
There are many potential symptoms of depression, including sleep disturbances, sadness, hopelessness, tearfulness, irritability, loss of interest, slowed thinking or speaking, anxiety, restlessness, agitation, feelings of guilt, trouble concentrating, unexplained physical problems, and frequent thoughts of death.
As mentioned, research into the use of CBD for depression and other conditions is still in its early stages. Even so, there has been research that indicates it can help with symptoms like cognitive impairment, social anxiety, and discomfort before speaking in public. There is also evidence of its ability to help with chronic pain and other conditions that may relate to depression.
In addition to the limited proven symptoms that this natural compound can relieve, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence showing its ability to assist with other symptoms. These include irritability, sleep disturbances, tearfulness, and unexplained physical problems.
Looking at the Research
To get a better idea of the impact of CBD on depression, combine research into this natural compound with the clinical trials in depression. The latter of these areas has significantly more research available, including a focus on the prefrontal cortex. There is also applicable general research into medical marijuana.
Experts are fairly certain that depression is linked to having low serotonin levels. There is no indication that cannabidiol will improve these levels. Instead, experts believe it may affect how the chemical receptors in the brain respond to the already-present serotonin.
Experts also connect the health benefits of this substance to its interactions with the endocannabinoid system, where it affects receptors that control a range of functions.
Animal Study in 2014
One animal study conducted in 2014 looked at the effect of CBD on the relevant brain receptors. It found that the compound provided anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
A 2018 review explored the advances in using CBD for neuropsychiatry. Looking at a range of studies from over the years, the researchers concluded that CBD produces anti-stress effects. These effects of cannabidiol may reduce the feelings of depression as they relate to stress.
2019 Animal Study
A study conducted on animals and published in 2019 found that CBD offers antidepressant-like effects that are sustained and begin quickly.
Comparing CBD to Traditional Antidepressants
Many people who suffer from depression currently rely on pharmaceutical antidepressant medications to control their symptoms. As such, it is natural to wonder how the use of CBD for depression compares to these antidepressants.
When It Begins Working
One of the disadvantages of traditional antidepressants is that they can take several weeks to begin working. For someone dealing with extreme symptoms, this wait can be too long.
By contrast, the previously mentioned animal study showed that the antidepressant effects of CBD begin working incredibly quickly and will continue to work.
Another common reason those with depression are hesitant to take antidepressants is the negative effects associated with them. These effects vary by person but can include mood swings, agitation, sexual dysfunction, and insomnia.
None of those effects has been seen with CBD so far. In fact, CBD is known for producing minimal to no negative effects.
A Note of Caution: Do Not Abruptly Stop Medication
Based on the above information, it may be tempting to stop taking the current antidepressant and switch to CBD. While individuals could certainly safely consider making the switch, they should not do so abruptly.
When a person abruptly stops a medication, it may lead to a range of negative effects. Instead, individuals should talk to their doctor about gradually decreasing their dose, or for a safer method of stopping the current medication. This is particularly important with antidepressants.
Depression and Anxiety Disorder
It is very common for a single patient to experience both depression and social anxiety disorder, and CBD shows promise helping with both mental health illnesses. This indicates potential anxiolytic properties, meaning an ability to reduce anxiety.
A study had people take 600 milligrams of CBD or a placebo before public speaking. This study was published in 2011 and showed a reduction in speaking-related anxiety with the former. A more recent study in 2017 used half this dose, 300 milligrams, and still showed participants experiencing a reduction in anxiety levels.
Why It Works
The way in which CBD treats anxiety may be similar to how it treats depression. This is because anxiety is also connected to low serotonin levels, at least potentially. As such, the natural compound’s ability to influence how serotonin receptors use the neurotransmitter may improve anxiety in addition to depression.
Potential Negative Effects
As mentioned, taking CBD for depression will come with significantly lower side effects than traditional antidepressant medications. Most people who use it will not experience any negative effects or at least very few of them.
That being said, some people may have stronger reactions to the substance than others do. These people may experience changes in their appetite or weight, fatigue, and/or diarrhea.
In one study with mice given very high doses of the compound via cannabis extracts, liver toxicity did occur. However, this involved mice, not people, and the levels used were extremely high, much more than most people will even consider using to treat depression.
Who Says It’s Generally Safe
For those who want reassurance from a major organization, they can trust that the World Health Organization officially stated that CBD is “generally safe” in 2017. They did, however, remind people that medicine interactions can occur.
No Long-term Research
One caveat to consider is that since research into the compound is still in its early stages, there has not been any long-term research conducted so far. Even so, experts are unaware of any potential long-term risks. Anecdotal evidence of people who have used CBD in the long term also poses minimal concerns.
As the World Health Organization indicated, individuals should keep in mind that while CBD is generally safe and unlikely to produce negative effects, it may interact with other medications that they take. Experts have discovered that it interacts with certain medicines in the same way that grapefruit does. As such, if someone takes medicine that comes with a warning against grapefruit, they should consult a doctor before using CBD.
Always Consult a Doctor
To stay safe when taking CBD for depression, individuals should always consult with their doctor before consuming it. They should be able to advise as to whether it interacts with any of the other medications.
There are many products available that contain CBD, but they tend to fit into one of several main categories.
- Oral Methods. Oral methods can include consuming CBD oil, tinctures, sprays, or capsules. Some of these can be directly consumed while others can also be mixed into a favorite drink. Capsules provide convenience and transportability, while tinctures and CBD oil allow for dose adjustability.
- Edibles. Edibles are also incredibly common, especially gummies. These are just like vitamin gummies and come pre-dosed for convenience. It is also possible to find other edible products if an individual knows where to look.
- Vapes. Some people prefer to vape their CBD oil. This is a popular method because it allows users to ingest the substance immediately, giving the quickest results. Use caution with vaping, however, as it can lead to throat irritation or coughing, and experts are still investigating the long-term effects of this method.
- Topicals. It is also possible to find topical treatment options, such as creams and lotions. These are popular for pain management and inflammation but are less than ideal for those looking to treat their depression.
Choosing a Product
With so many products on the market containing CBD, it can be overwhelming to try to choose which one to use. Individuals should start by choosing which of the above types of products they prefer. From there, look at things like dose and the source.
Stay Safe by Researching the Product
At the moment, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate CBD products since there is no official proof of its usefulness for depression. As such, some unscrupulous sellers will make false claims or include misleading product information, even inaccurate concentration information.
Avoid these problems by always thoroughly researching the products before buying them. Check that the company has a good reputation and that there are positive customer reviews.
Look for a Certificate of Analysis
An individual’s research should also include confirming that there is a certificate of analysis for the chosen CBD product. This should show independent lab results, including the concentrations of CBD and other elements, as well as whether harmful ingredients are present.
Isolate vs. Full-spectrum
Patients will also need to decide whether they want an isolate or a full-spectrum product. Isolates only contain CBD while full-spectrum products also have other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, potentially including higher concentrations of THC.
Full-spectrum products can provide enhanced benefits of CBD since the various elements of cannabis enhance each other’s benefits, which is known as the entourage effect. However, the higher levels of THC may cause mild psychoactive effects in some people (but not most) and can show up on a drug test. Additionally, if marijuana is not legal in the state, full-spectrum products may be illegal as well.
Many women struggle with pregnancy depression. In most cases, it is because they cannot manage the hormonal changes occurring inside their body. Women can also struggle with pregnancy depression because of the fear that comes with them being pregnant. There are both natural treatments and medications for depression during pregnancy that can be taken. However, many of them come with their risks which could put the unborn child at risk.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pregnancy Depression?
Each woman experiences different symptoms as she faces pregnancy depression. Some only feel one or two symptoms, while others feel more. Here are some of the most common symptoms of women who are diagnosed with pregnancy depression experience.
- The inability to concentrate on situations as they once could
- Feelings of overwhelming sadness for no explainable reason
- Unexplained anxiety or feeling as though something is always going to go wrong
- Sleeping for too many hours per day
- Feeling unable to make proper decisions
- Insomnia that stems from anxiety or fear over the pregnancy
- Crying uncontrollably or more than is necessary for a given event
- Recurring thoughts about dying or worthlessness
- Eating far too much or far too little to be healthy for the pregnancy
- Finding no fun or joy in the activities that once brought joy
Does the Pregnancy Trigger the Depression?
In nearly all cases, the pregnancy itself does not trigger the depression. Instead, it is something the woman is susceptible to even before she becomes pregnant. Between her current situation and the hormonal changes, the depression comes forward, and the symptoms become apparent. There are other pregnancy depression triggers, however. They include:
- Relationship issues with the father of the child
- Having a history of any form of depression
- Trauma or any abuse at home
- Loss of pregnancies in the past, adding anxiety or pressure to this pregnancy
- Chronic pain associated with pregnancy
- Pregnancy complications that leave the woman feeling she has no control
- Events in life that create a stressful environment around the mother
How Pregnancy Depression Can Have an Effect on Baby
There are several ways that pregnancy depression can manifest itself into a problem for the unborn child. First, pregnant women need to take care of themselves. If they are unable or unwilling to take care of themselves, it directly impacts the overall health of the child they deliver. A pregnant woman needs to eat right, get regular exercise, see the doctor for all of her prenatal care, and get enough sleep. Without those things, her baby could be born unhealthy and could even struggle with lifelong ailments as a result.
Women using substances to try and battle pregnancy depression on their own can harm both themselves and their unborn baby. Many researchers have gone through and been able to document the effects of drinking, smoking, and drug use during pregnancy. If a pregnant woman is not taking care of herself properly, she may resort to using these substances, leaving her and her child at risk.
Pregnancy depression also increases the chances of delivering an unhealthy baby. It can show up in many ways, including:
- Lower birth weight. When babies are born to depressed mothers, they often come out under the ideal birth weight for a full-term baby.
- Early delivery. Many babies are born early (before 37 weeks gestation) when their mother struggles with pregnancy depression.
- Small size. Babies born to mothers struggling with pregnancy depression are often born smaller than expected for their gestational age.
Can You Prevent Pregnancy Depression?
Some things can be done to reduce the chances of pregnancy depression developing. First, the woman should surround herself with as many supportive people as possible. It should include her obstetrician, so she can have help watching for signs or symptoms to develop. Next, she should make sure she is in a safe situation during her pregnancy. If she is in a situation where trauma or abuse could happen, she should remove herself and find a safe place to stay.
Support groups are another great way of preventing depression. They give the pregnant woman a safe place to talk about what is going through her mind, without adding more pressure to her to be something she feels incapable of being. It can be a place to talk about her pregnancy fears, to talk about past losses, or even to discuss the way she currently feels about her pregnancy without judgment.
If pain is part of the trigger for pregnancy depression, a doctor’s advice should also be sought out on how to manage the pain. Going from being able to move freely to feeling ill or in chronic pain can cause an internal struggle for many pregnant women. The more a doctor can help women manage the pain, the less likely depression symptoms are to show up from that type of trigger.
Treatment Options for Pregnancy Depression
Luckily for pregnant women, there are quite a few options for treating pregnancy depression. Therapy is a wonderful way of working through the depression without turning to medication since not all of it is safe while pregnant. However, if a woman discovers she is pregnant while already taking medication, she must speak with her obstetrician prior to tapering or stopping the medication. It may put the woman at risk of suicide to abruptly stop taking the medication, so monitoring or switching medications may be necessary.
There are homeopathic options for battling depression, as well, but not all of them are safe for pregnant women. Some herbs are dangerous to take while pregnant and could lead to preterm labor. In this situation, a woman needs to speak with her doctor to find out what is safe and what should be avoided.
Antidepressant Safety During Pregnancy
Overall, the data that has been gathered around the most widely prescribed antidepressants found that there is little or no risk of taking antidepressants while pregnant. However, this is not a blanket for all types of antidepressant medication. While most varieties do not show that they pose a risk to an unborn child, there is no guarantee that it is safe. Doctor’s advice should always be sought, and regular checkups should always be kept to keep an unborn child as safe as possible.
It seems incredibly promising that CBD can offer a natural treatment for depression with minimal to no negative effects. However, we still need more research into its effects and abilities to confirm its potential benefits. For now, there is likely no harm in trying it as a treatment for depression, provided the patient discusses it with their doctor and does not stop any of their current medications abruptly.