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Depression is a state of mind when someone is going through immense sadness or feeling like they are stuck somewhere. If it is not treated at the right time, it will take an acute stage which is not suitable for the person who is going through it. Well, right now, depression is one of the leading psychological issues in the world, and countless people are going through the ill effects of it.

Major depression is a widespread disease, with a lifetime prevalence of 15%. It’s associated with a significant burden on the quality of life and work productivity of depressed individuals, with a high risk of mortality due to suicidal thoughts and actions. Unfortunately, the majority of depressed patients (two-thirds) do not achieve full remission (cure), which is the key to retaining full functionality. To date, the available treatment strategies for these patients are though changing, augmenting, and combining anti-depressant medications.

To deal with depression, one has to be strong enough and then only he or she can come out of that. Also, studies have shown that one can take the help of CBD oil, which is helpful to cure the symptoms of depression. However, until the current time, recommendations for the routine use of CBD in treating depression and other neuropsychiatry disorders cannot be made. So, let us bring some insights into the benefits of CBD on targeting depression.

What is Depression?

Depression is known as the most prevalent mood disorder worldwide. Based on the recent report of the World Health Organization, depression affects around 300 million individuals each year throughout the globe. The burden of depression is huge, especially in people with severe depression, which can lead to experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Depression is mainly caused by changes in the brain’s chemical neurotransmitters. Sometimes, some medical conditions and certain drugs can cause depression if they affect the brain’s chemical composition. The treatment in such cases is easy and straightforward: treatment of the underlying medical condition or stopping of the offending drug or medication. However, the majority of people diagnosed with depression have no other medical conditions and are not on any drugs. Therefore, proper identification and management of these cases are mandatory.

There are a variety of depressive symptoms, the most characteristic of which is the prolonged periods of low mood and/or motivation. Depression can present with other symptoms, such as fatigue, chronic pain, anxiety, or sleep problems.

The severity of depression can be classified into three main categories:

  1. Mild depression: it involves a minimal degree of symptoms (loss of interest or low motivation)
  2. Moderate depression: it involves remarkable symptoms, ranging from main motivational loss, low energy. This stage usually includes disturbance in the activities of daily living.
  3. Severe depression: this stage is the most crucial of them all. The patient starts to imagine suicidal thoughts, which can, if not treated properly, result in actual suicide.

How can Depression Present?

Despite the fact that a long list of medical diseases has depression as a presenting symptom, depression in itself is considered a medical condition with its own distinctive list of symptoms.

The most characteristics symptoms of depression include loss of motivation and low-energy. However, this is different in a person from another. Some people tend to sleep more, some tend to shut themselves down, and some tend to avoid happy people and situations. Interestingly, people may react differently to depression, where some patients tend to sleep more, while others may find sleeping difficult.

Here is a list of the symptoms that a person with depression can witness:

  1. Loss of motivation
  2. Low energy
  3. Sleep problems
  4. Fatigue
  5. Having a feeling of being worthless
  6. Inability to concentrate
  7. Increase or decrease in appetite
  8. Apathy
  9. Inability to feel happiness or pleasure
  10. Easily irritable and provoked
  11. Habit changes

What are the Main Causes of Depression?

There is no single cause for depression. However, in the majority of cases, it is due to changes in brain neurochemicals. This can be caused by a wide variety of medical conditions, an unhealthy diet, or bad lifestyle habits.

The causes of depression include the following:

  1. Substance abuse
  2. Chronic stress
  3. Bereavement
  4. Certain drugs’ adverse events
  5. Genetic diseases, such as multiple sclerosis
  6. Poor intake of high-quality nutrients, such as vitamin B, magnesium, and zinc

How is Depression Treated?

The major aim behind the treatment of depression is directed towards finding the cause.

After a number of psychiatry sessions with a psychiatrist, the doctor will be able to determine if there are any signs of abuse, personal problems, emotional hardships, or other causes of depression that may play a role. At the same time, a dietician or nutritionist will ask about the dietary and special habits of the patients to determine how the dietary modifications and lifestyle adjustments would affect the outcome of medical therapy.

Sometimes, dietary and lifestyle changes can be enough to alleviate the depressive symptoms, with no need for medical therapy. However, in people with moderate to severe depression, medications are prescribed, and for prolonged periods of time. These drugs include monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Unfortunately, some patients, especially those with severe symptoms, become irresponsive to these drugs. This led the researchers to investigate other options for the treatment of depression, which include cannabis and its compounds, including cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Studies that prove that CBD is beneficial in treating depression

Many studies and observations suggest that CBD can treat depression. Let us have a precise look at the studies that signifies the benefits of CBD in treating depression.

  •    Rodent evidence– Some experts experimented CBD on rodent models. All of the rodents were epileptic. They were amazed after acknowledging that it reduces neuronal atrophy as well the death of the hippocampus. Well, these are the reasons why many people suffer from symptoms of depression. Moreover, several studies have confirmed that CBD efficiently reduces anxiety in rodents after either single or repeated administration, which is also helpful in the management of depression.
  •    Human evidence– Just like the epileptic rats, people who intake Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have a smaller hippocampus. But, when they were provided with a combined dose of CBD and THC, it showed that it could stop the shrinkage of the hippocampus. Hippocampus is that part of the brain where the neuron atrophies take place and make a person depressed.

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What is the Role of CBD in Depression?

There are many ways through which CBD can help alleviate the depressive symptoms of most cases. Inflammation of the brain is known as one of the most leading causes of depression, which alters the chemical composition of the brain. CBD has potent anti-inflammatory properties that have been supported by preclinical and clinical studies. Through this pathway, CBD can help ease the symptoms of depression.

The hippocampus is a part of the brain that is mainly involved in modulating mood, and this part is the first to become affected when a patient develops depression. CBD is reported to protect the hippocampus from any associated damage.

There is a wide variety of therapeutic benefits to CBD in easing depressive symptoms, including:

  1. Reduction of the brain’s inflammatory state
  2. Protection against any brain damage or degeneration
  3. Regulation of important mood-related neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline
  4. Anxiolysis and improvement of sleep, which are essential for normal brain functioning

Is CBD Really Effective in Treating Depression?

In a large survey-based study among 2490 cannabidiol users in the United States, it was found that around 380 people used cannabidiol for the treatment of their depression, accounting for 15% of all cannabidiol using purposes. Among the 350 participants who reported using CBD for depression, 250 (71.4%) used CBD alone or with other conventional drugs to treat their depression and found it effective to treat their condition “very well”.

A pilot randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial investigated the effects of inhaled CBD (400 μg) dissolved in ethanol compared to placebo (ethanol alone) among 24 tobacco smokers who wanted to quit. Depression was being assessed during the treatment period of 7 days. Unfortunately, no significant differences were noted between CBD or placebo as regards depressive symptoms. However, CBD resulted in a marked reduction in anxiety over time. Noteworthy, this study was conducted among people who were not treated primarily for depression. To date, there is no published clinical trial to examine the effectiveness of CBD in treating depression.

Based on these observations, and despite the promising effects of CBD in treating depression, there is no high-quality evidence to recommend the use of CBD in patients with depression. Therefore, the use of CBD in depression should only be done after consulting the treating physician, particularly after other treatment options have failed to alleviate the depressive symptoms.

According to scientists, CBD is capable of protecting or regenerating the hippocampus with the help of these pathways:

  •    EndocannabinoidsEndocannabinoids are compounds, which target the brain as well as the body, to improve appetite, memory, and other areas of functioning. Also, endocannabinoid reduces inflammations in various medical conditions and improves sleep. Combination of all these can also help a person to stay away from the unwanted circumstances of depression.
  •    Brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF– This is a protein that helps in the survival of existing neurons as well as connections.
  •    Serotonin receptors– Now, this is one of the most significant points. Well, serotonin is the hormone that induces the excellent mood in us and for that reason; it is a very substantial hormone. CBD is also known to target serotonin receptors (5-HT 1A) to exhibit serotonin-like actions.
  •    PPAR– Whenever CBD is combined with this receptor; it sends a message to DNA so that it can manufacture a vast range of compounds that are neuron-protecting and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Some clues that signify that CBD helps to combat depression

Circumstantial evidence– Some studies justify that cannabis can cure depression. However, more studies are in need to confirm its effects on individuals with major depression.

Experimental evidence– Numerous clinical trials suggest that cannabis can come in handy if you are suffering from the ill effects of depression. It has rapid anti-depressant effects, and that is undeniably quite beneficial during the days of depression. 

Do people think that CBD can treat their Depression?

CBD products are currently purchased everywhere, over the counter throughout most of the country. It is renounced by the U.S Food and Drug Administration as a dietary supplement ingredient. Consumer demand for CBD has been growing, however, only a few studies examined the effects of CBD in treating neuropsychiatric disorders.

Based on the preclinical and clinical studies which suggest that CBD has broad therapeutic value, a recent survey investigation was conducted in order to determine the reasons for the increase in CBD use. The authors found that the majority of CBD users (62%) reported using it to treat a medical condition. Depression was one of the top three medical conditions to be treated with CBD. Nearly half of respondents reported feeling that CBD treated their depression “very well by itself” or “moderately well by itself”.

In conclusion, these data and the findings of other studies (experimental and human) provide a compelling rationale for further research to better determine the therapeutic potential of CBD in treating various neuropsychiatric disorders, especially depression.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31672337/
https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0706743719895195
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6161644/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK425767/

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