Does CBD Treat Anxiety and Depression?

CBD and Depression

Stress Really Does Kill

“Stress kills” is not just a saying – chronic stress and anxiety can literally kill you, or at least shorten your life span significantly, by means of health afflictions such as heart disease and cancer. Mental illness is, of course, another rather undesirable side effect of stress and anxiety. One study tracked the lives of over a thousand men and found a direct correlation between stress and premature death. While there are “conventional” tricks to counter stress such as sleeping extra, getting regular exercise, and meditation, the blunt fact is that most people don’t care to do these things. As a consequence, prescription drugs such as Xanax and Prozac have snuck up in an almost uncanny way. Sadly, these often present even worse problems. In this article, we examine cannabidiol (CBD) as an alternative medicine for stress, anxiety, and depression.

Traditional mental health drugs may bring more than what one bargained for.
Traditional mental health drugs may bring more than what one bargained for.

CBD as a Solution

There is a solution for those suffering from anxiety, where tricks such as extra sleep are not an option: cannabidiol. It shows promise in helping treat various mental health afflictions:

  • Social anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • General anxiety
  • PTSD
  • OCD
  • Chronic stress

For this reason, many consider cannabidiol a healing molecule. Furthermore, it is not addictive and in proper doses considered very safe to use. Unlike its distant cousin THC, found in marijuana, it is impossible to get high on cannabidiol. In fact, CBD counters THC. Accordingly, CBD has induced a large interest in scientific communities. Studies are being regularly published detailing the effects of CBD – and frankly, the results seem quite promising.

How CBD Works Against Anxiety and Depression

Cannabidiol and Serotonin

In animals, cannabidiol was found to increase activity over 5-HT neurotransmission. What does this mean? The 5-HT receptors are a group of sites in the brain activated by serotonin, the same molecule targeted by drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and hallucinogens. Serotonin is commonly associated with:

  • Mood regulation
  • Digestive function
  • Nausea
  • Clotting
  • Bone density
  • Sexual function

The leading theory is that low levels  of serotonin contribute to a host of symptoms, including:

  • Depression
  • Poor memory
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety

CBD might increase serotonin. As opposed to antidepressants like Zoloft or Prozac, CBD allegedly has a faster onset. Additionally, there are almost no side effects. Thus, CBD is a possible alternative for traditional antidepressants and anxiolytic substances.

Serotonin is often associated with feelings of well-being, empathy, and socialization. CBD can increase serotonin.
Serotonin is often associated with feelings of well-being, empathy, and socialization.

Cannabidiol and GABA

GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter of the nervous system. That is, the more GABA, the less neuronal excitability. Large levels of GABA are associated with:

  • Sedation
  • Anxiety reduction
  • Seizure reduction
  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion

Low GABA levels largely cause the opposites. As one might guess, alcohol and benzodiazepines are known to increase GABA transmission directly.

Scientists report that CBD can change the shape of GABA receptors. It was shown to increase affinity for GABA itself. This is great news. It implies that we have an anxiety-reducing substance that is not harmful.

Cannabidiol and The Hippocampus

The hippocampus is a part of the brain responsible for a large number of functions. These include mood regulation, short term memory, and fear/stress responses. Physically smaller hippocampuses were found in those with anxiety disorders and depression. Moreover, this may be contributing to the disorders themselves.

Fortunately, CBD may have an effect on hippocampus growth. A study involving stressed out mice found that CBD enhanced neurogenesis in the hippocampus. That is, it regenerated neurons. Consequently, the mice were found to have less anxiety after treatment.

An impaired hippocampus can cause suicidal tendencies. Thus, these findings are important. Furthermore, these studies open up new insight into the mechanism of anxiety and depression in the first place.

Studies Involving Humans

Animals aren’t the only thing studied by scientists.

For more studies of various types, see these pages on depression and anxiety.

Is CBD Right For Me?

As if things couldn’t get any better, there was a survey finding half of people who use CBD stopped taking traditional medicines. This is not because it is addictive. In fact, there are studies showing it might help with addiction. This is because these people truly believe CBD just works. To their benefit, there is substantial evidence in their favor.

In the survey, over 80% said they found CBD to be very or extremely effective.

It is important, however, to be realistic in your expectations. Clearly, a substance which causes euphoria in all cases would be addictive. CBD does not do this. It is not like traditional depression treatments. It is also important to stay wary of potential drug interactions. Since CBD may have an effect on serotonin receptors, it may be unwise to mix it with another serotonin-affecting drug. This can lead to serotonin syndrome. For instance, it is not recommended that CBD be mixed with an SSRI like Prozac or Zoloft.

Safety comes first in all cases. If there is no problem with potential interactions, and if you are currently treatment-resistant to some mental health affliction, or don’t want to be dependent on a drug, it may be worth giving CBD a shot. The positive effects of cannabidiol, coupled with its unlikeliness of experiencing side effects make it a promising buy. For high quality, safe, lab tested CBD products, see the CBGenius shop.



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