Your mental health and wellbeing are just as important to look after as your physical health. Nurturing one’s mental health can take the form of talking an issue through with somebody, but it might require extra help sometimes.
Anxiety and depression, for instance, are two of the most prevalent mental health disorders in the world. Data estimates indicate that individuals with depression are 20 times likely to die from suicide than those without the condition. 264 million people were found to be suffering from depression in 2017, with the prevalence of the disorder being higher for women than for men.
In the United States, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that 12.7 percent of the population over the age of 12 took antidepressant medication in 2017. The Guardian, on the other hand, reported that more than four million people in England were long-term users of antidepressants. Additionally, one in six people in the country were prescribed these medications in the same year.
What’s more, the number of antidepressant prescriptions in England in 2018, standing at 70.9 million items, were found to have doubled the 36 million that had been prescribed a decade ago in 2008.
While taking prescribed antidepressants is not necessarily a bad thing; alternatives such as CBD products exist. These can save a good number of patients from developing a dependence on medicine when they don’t need to, and the taxpayer from spending on avoidable prescriptions. So, how exactly does CBD work to support and enhance mental health and wellbeing?
A Quick Science Lesson: What Is CBD?
CBD (also known as cannabidiol) is one of many active compounds naturally found in Cannabis sativa plants. CBD is proven to interact with your complex endocannabinoid system (ECS) responsible for various processes in the body, including memory, stress, pain, immune response, appetite, sleep, etc. The positive effect of ECS means that intake of CBD oil can help to increase the effectiveness of the ECS, which in turn improves your body’s ability to remain in balance and achieve optimal health.
Can CBD Be Effective In Supporting Your Mental Health & General Wellness?
Various studies indicate that CBD may help one manage anxiety and depression, decrease the physiological effects of anxiety such as an increased heart rate, deal with cognitive impairment, improve symptoms of PTSD, reduce stress, and induce sleep in those who have insomnia.
Granted, there has been a lot of research into the benefits of CBD in the last decade, but a significant portion has involved animal tests. Still, while some might consider the benefits of CBD for depression in human beings mostly speculative at the moment, researchers do believe that CBD’s potential advantages, especially for depression, are related to its positive effect on the brain’s serotonin receptors.
Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. But while CBD does not necessarily boost the serotonin in your central nervous system, a 2014 review of several animal studies found that it acted on the chemical reactors in the brain that respond to the serotonin levels in the system, and produced both antidepressant and antianxiety effects.
A more recent 2018 study detailing the advances in the development of experimental and clinical use of CBD in various therapeutic applications found that CBD has anxiolytic, antipsychotic and neuroprotective properties, among other benefits. In layman’s terms, the anti-stress effects that CBD produces may reduce depression and anxiety, which commonly occur together, and which are related to stress.
How Does CBD Compare To Antidepressant Medications?
All these exciting facts give great reasons to love CBD; you might be thinking. But if it has such potent benefits; how, then, does CBD compare to traditional antidepressant medications?
Here’s the quick answer: True comparisons of the effects of both CBD and traditional antidepressants cannot be made at the moment because there is still insufficient research on the effects of cannabidiol. This is not to say that no possible benefits are apparent by comparison.
For one, CBD promises to be a fast-acting antidepressant drug. The journal Molecular Neurobiology published a 2018 study that showed CBD produces rapid and sustained antidepressant-like effects in mice, unlike most traditional antidepressant medications. These medications typically take some time, even weeks, to begin working.
CBD may also result in fewer side effects than antidepressant medication. Side effects such as agitation, insomnia, mood swings and sexual dysfunction have been attributed to traditional antidepressant medication. CBD has not shown such side effects, though it does appear to cause diarrhoea, dry mouth, fatigues and changes in weight or appetite in a number of people that may be more sensitive to it.
Thus far, however, experts have not identified any significant long-term risks of using CBD. Indeed, a WHO review in 2017 stated that CBD is safe and generally well-tolerated in human beings. And while long-term effects might not be entirely clear, any reported adverse effects could be attributed to drug-drug interactions between CBD and existing medications that patients were taking.
The Three Types Of CBDs
If you’re relatively new to the CBD world, the jargon might be a little confusing. There are three types of CBD categories; namely, full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD, and CBD isolate. Now, the first one contains everything in the cannabis plant; we’re talking from THC to other all-natural compounds found in Cannabis sativa. However, in a full-spectrum hemp CBD, there will be no more than 0.3% of THC. Next, the broad-spectrum CBD. This CBD contains all the natural elements found in the cannabis plant, expect THC. And finally, CBD isolate, also known as an isolate, is the purest CBD form. CBD isolate has no THC and only has CBD alone. If you are a sportsperson competing professionally and will undergo drug testing at some point, choose CBD isolate. It’s 100% free from THC and free from other cannabinoids as well!
A word of caution to anyone who might be interested in using CBD products to treat depression: It is critical to talk to your healthcare provider first before stopping any prescribed medication, especially antidepressants, even as we await the conclusions of more research on the potential for CBD as a treatment for depression.
Since serious side effects may be experienced when you abruptly stop a prescribed medication, make sure you work with your healthcare provider to come up with a plan that helps you gradually decrease your dosage. A doctor or mental health professional will also help you avoid adverse medication interactions, particularly if you would like to use CBD in conjunction with other treatments to alleviate depression symptoms.