CBD For Anxiety And Depression | Does It Work?

CBD For Depression And Anxiety

Depression will affect about one in 15 people annually and anxiety plagues at least 3 out of 10 people during their lifetime, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Cannabis is a known and effective mood-enhancing medicine which also has anti-depressant qualities.


Cannabidiol (CBD) is derived from cannabis and can also provide relief from symptoms of depression and anxiety without the psychoactive element typically associated with cannabis. CBD has zero to trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive element in cannabis.


CBD is not a depression or anxiety cure, but it does help to regulate the endocannabinoid system to treat symptoms. The endocannabinoid system affects the brain and controls emotions such as depression and anxiety. Cannabinoid receptors control pain, memory, emotion, motor control, nausea, the immune system, and the peripheral nervous system.


Anxiety and depression can affect several aspects of a person’s life including their health, functioning, and productivity, as well as their social life. Using CBD for depression and anxiety is beneficial because it can significantly reduce symptoms and help to improve quality of life, according to the National Institutes of Health.


CBD for Depression

CBD is extracted from the cannabis plant and works in the brain by indirectly signaling the main cannabinoid receptors called CB1 and CB2 receptors. CB1 receptors are present in the brain as well as throughout the body and regulate the psychoactive effects of cannabinoids. CB2 receptors are more restricted and found in immune cells and neurones.


The CB1 receptors moderate the release of neurotransmitters that help to calm neuronal activity and consequently decrease anxiety and depression. Two of these neurotransmitters are dopamine and serotonin.


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps to control the pleasure center and to regulate movement and emotional responses. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps relay messages between areas of the brain while influencing psychological functions related to mood. CBD simultaneously interacts with serotonin and dopamine cell receptors, working to influence brain activity and release dopamine and serotonin throughout the body and improve depressive moods.


Traditional anti-depressants take several weeks before a noticeable change can be felt or for depressive symptoms to decrease. They also only work on approximately 40 percent of patients. More research is needed on CBD for depression, but a study on animals has proved that CBD worked on the same day to decrease depressive symptoms and improve cognitive function. Researchers also found that a single dose of CBD worked for up to seven days.


CBD for Anxiety

Traditional anxiety drugs increase the serotonin levels in the brain by blocking the brain’s ability to reabsorb serotonin, which helps to improve mood. Prescription anxiety medicine also stimulates the brain and produces new neurons in the hippocampus to decrease anxiety.


CBD treats anxiety in a similar fashion to traditional anti-anxiety prescription medications without dangerous side effects. General anxiety disorder can significantly impair social activities or functions such as public speaking.


A 2011 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology found that a single dose of CBD decreased anxiety for patients with social phobia prior to a public speaking performance. CBD significantly reduced anxiety symptoms and improved the speakers’ cognitive discomfort and impairment.


The National Institutes of Health reported a 2012 study finding that CBD is effective in treating social anxiety disorder.  The National Institute of Health also found that CBD reduces stress and the physiological symptoms of anxiety such as an increased heart rate. The study concluded that more research and patient clinical trials with a variety of anxiety disorders should be conducted as a result.


The study specifically named panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorder as conditions that should be investigated for CBD treatment due to the positive outcomes of previous studies.


Researchers in Brazil also had similar results when using CBD to treat anxiety. A 2017 study conducted by São Paulo University on fear and anxiety found that CBD significantly decreased fear and anxiety in patients with social phobia.


CBD also works for patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Approximately 6 out of 10 men and 5 out of 10 women will experience one trauma in their lifetime, and studies have shown that CBD can be an effective treatment for PTSD. Military veterans suffering from PTSD reported that not only has cannabis oil helped them with symptoms from PTSD, CBD also helped to control pain.


For people experiencing generalized anxiety, starting with a single, low dose of CBD is ideal. People suffering from severe anxiety such as PTSD should start with a higher dose of CBD and consume more than a single dose throughout the day until they find the best dose for optimum results.  


Side Effects Of CBD

CBD is safe but may also result in mild side effects, which are rare. Those that do have side effects may experience dizziness, diarrhea, dry mouth, fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort, appetite changes, and insomnia.CBD is not psychoactive, meaning a person will not be intoxicated by consuming CBD as they would with THC. While CBD is not psychoactive, it does work on the brain to produce a calming effect and also has anti-inflammation qualities.


Researchers believe that CBD can be an effective and viable treatment for people suffering from depression or anxiety due to its rapid and sustained effects on the brain. CBD has calming effects but does not cause the high normally associated with cannabis and THC.


CBD may have trace amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and therefore could possibly test positive for THC on a drug test. However, CBD with trace amounts of THC generally has less than .03 percent and will not have any psychoactive effects.


CBD is also effective in treating PTSD and researchers say that more studies should be conducted for other mental illnesses such as obsessive-compulsive disorder and schizophrenia. CBD can be simply added to beverages and food or taken orally in the form of a capsule, oil, spray, or tincture. It is also available in creams, rubs, and roll-on formulas for pain relief.

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