“Mood swings,” the common term we use to refer to noticeable changes in mood (from a feeling of wellbeing to feelings of anger, irritability, or sadness) are generally a natural part of life that most of us can manage. But in more severe cases, mood swings can be debilitating, they can interfere and even debilitate daily routines, and can be part of more serious mood disorders, like bipolar disorder, premenstrual disorders, depressive disorders and illnesses like schizophrenia. The symptoms of these disorders — which can affect anyone regardless of age or gender and last from a few weeks to a lifetime — include ongoing feelings of hopelessness or anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and relationship problems, among others.
Mood disorders don’t have clear causes, but medical professionals theorize that they are a result of an imbalance of brain chemicals within the limbic system (which contains important structures like the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus). Established treatments for mood disorders include psychotherapy, techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy, and prescription drugs such as antipsychotics or antidepressants.
Over the past few years, cognitive behavioral therapy has become increasingly popular with doctors and patients because, for some mood disorders, it’s seen as equally effective as pharmaceutical treatments but less harmful to the body. According to recent clinical research, antidepressants and antipsychotics often come with undesired side effects and can be dangerous, particularly with long-term use. Because of these safety concerns, doctors and patients are exploring alternative treatments such as cannabis products like CBD oil for treating mood disorders, with patients reporting a preference of cannabis over conventional mood disorder drugs because it’s either more effective than pharmaceuticals or, when used in tandem, it can help lessen their side effects.
According to the biomedical journal Pharmacological Research, CBD oil has the ability to decrease “psychotic-, anxiety- and depressive-like behaviors” in neuropsychiatric disorders. CBD activates the body’s endocannabinoid system which then supports the limbic system, resulting in emotional and cognitive regulation and helping to maintain homeostasis.
To break it down into simpler terms, the human endocannabinoid system is comprised of a large network of receptors found all over our body, within the limbic system and a number of other organs, cells, and tissues. When this system is activated by cannabinoids, which include CBD, it supports immune and neurological functions — in other words it helps our limbic system function properly. And since mood disorders are theoretically caused by a dysfunctional limbic system, we need compounds like CBD to initiate these regulatory processes in our body.
Science shows that CBD can play a part in supporting a healthy limbic system, thereby regulating emotions and mood fluctuations. Whether you’re suffering from mood swings or more severe mood disorders, CBD is a treatment worth considering as it’s a natural substance found in plants that’s shown to have fewer side effects compared to pharmaceutical options. But before you try any new treatment plan — including CBD — talk to your doctor.