Many people experience depression and unfortunately, the numbers are growing. Feeling sad is a natural response to bad things happening in our lives, but feeling depressed is another thing entirely. Sometimes triggered by life events, substance abuse or memories, symptoms of depression can range from feeling anxious and afraid to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
If you are asking “do I have depression?”, you should talk to your family and friends, or a mental health professional. They will be able to help you find out whether you have depression and point you in the right direction. There are a lot of treatment options available, one of which is CBD, which is discussed here.
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a compound found naturally in the brain as well as in the cannabis plant. It has been used for thousands of years as a medicine to help with what we would now call mental disorders, with some success. The illegality of cannabis for most of the 20th century and most of this century have made it hard to study properly for medicinal use. However, as more enlightened states and countries are decriminalizing and legalizing cannabis, the hopes for cannabis are rising.
There is a lot of pseudoscience and plain untruth regarding CBD on the internet today. There are lots of people trying to sell it and lots of people wanting to use it, but not many institutions who are willing to study it. There is an almost complete lack of reliable evidence for CBD being useful for bipolar or depressive disorders. What studies have been done are small scale and unreliable, often with a startling disregard for normal scientific procedures.
Health professionals are, however, starting to experiment with CBD and other cannabinoids. The most commonly used self-medication for bipolar disorder sufferers is cannabis, and the endocannabinoid system (the receptors that CBD interacts with in the brain and body) does appear to be related to conditions like autism and bipolar. This is far from conclusive and currently there is not enough evidence for clinical use.
Small studies have shown that certain mechanisms in the brain that are related to depression are affected by CBD, like the serotonin and glutamate cortical signaling pathways. In mice, CBD has positively affected these mechanisms and resulted in what appears to be a relief from depression for the mice. Mice are not humans, however, and cannot tell us exactly how they feel, so it is difficult to extrapolate that evidence to humans.
Another small study showed that mice displayed fewer warning signs of depression including more motivation, activity and less aggression. This evidence is hardly conclusive, but does strongly support what thousands of anecdotal testimonies have said about CBD and cannabis: that it has calming and anti-anxiety effects.
The American Psychiatric Association does not currently advise CBD prescription, however, it is changing its stance gradually. Some clinicians are coming round to the view that cannabis and CBD can be helpful, especially given how many of their patients self-medicate with it and the results they seem to be getting out of it.
When someone is asking “do I have depression?”, one of the fears that a person can suffer from while finding out the answer to that question is that the antidepressant medication they might have to take can have severe side effects. These are fears based in reality: many antidepressants have side effects that can make them intolerable, with some causing psychosis and suicidal thoughts.
One potential benefit of CBD is that it is a very tolerable drug: most people suffer no side effects whatsoever. It is also not psychoactive, meaning it does not give the user a high. People who are asking “do I have depression?” often do not need anything that would mess up their delicate mental health like a psychoactive drug, so CBD offers one avenue of treatment.
Furthermore, CBD has 3 very positive effects which would be of huge value to a person suffering from depression that make it a very promising option for treating depression.
It is not well understood whether CBD works properly with depression, but it has shown general mood stabilizing effects while allowing the patient to maintain their cognitive functions, something many strong drugs do not allow. Anecdotally, CBD has a lot of testimony attesting to this effect, there are many people who rely upon CBD to calm mood swings and deal with psychosis.
A major depressive episode is a very difficult thing to deal with. Often, only after a period of time has passed will the symptoms go away. By the time the antidepressants have stabilized, the patient might have changed their situation or got over the grief and recovered. This can make effective use of antidepressant medication difficult, especially if the patient is asking “do I have depression?” for the first time.
CBD is potentially a fast-acting antidepressant, meaning many patients can get a treatment that is low in toxicity, relatively safe (much safer than most SSRIs) and non-psychoactive, but will act quickly. This would be an excellent treatment option for those with depression, which can appear and disappear with no apparent reason.
When studied for other conditions like cancer, CBD appears to be highly tolerable. It also seems to increase appetite and enjoyment of food, something that can be helpful to depression sufferers. In some cases, patients forget to eat, or cannot maintain the motivation to prepare food. This can lead to dramatic weight loss and a lack of energy, making it harder to recover from the depressive episode. If CBD is ingested, it is suggested that the appetite could be increased and this symptom of depression alleviated.
Far more important than finding out whether CBD will benefit depression is knowing whether you have depression in the first place. If you think you are seeing the warning signs or are feeling hopeless, down, inexplicably sad, lacking in energy, anxious or afraid for no apparent reason, you should consult a doctor and obtain a diagnosis. You can learn more about the symptoms of depression here.
With a diagnosis a whole world of effective treatments opens up to the sufferer, one of which could be CBD. Getting help can feel difficult and embarrassing but it is available and confidential, so make good use of it. Support on the phone, internet and in person is all available.