While sadness hits us all from time to time, the feelings usually lift as we find ways to adjust and return to a normal state.
Depression, however, weighs down heavily on the body and mind, often affecting all aspects of daily life with seemingly no end in sight.
Persistent feelings of sadness and disinterest quickly take their toll on the body. Professional support is an important place to start, though healing is an individual process unique to each person.
Most people find a combination of care works best, usually consisting of lifestyle changes and an increase in self-care practices.
If you’re wondering How can CBD oil help depression we’ve got you covered.
Cannabidiol (CBD) products are an increasingly popular choice for many looking to recover from depression naturally. Using CBD oil for depression can help boost the road to recovery along with other lifestyle changes. The evidence supporting its use is promising, and will only become greater with more clinical trials.
What causes depression?
To understand the CBD and depression connection, it’s important to understand the root of the condition. Depression is much more complex than a chemical imbalance in the brain.
Although brain chemistry does have an important effect on depression, a lack of serotonin is not the only cause. Sadly, the notion that depression is caused solely by a chemical imbalance in the brain is a mistaken belief that has been spread by big pharmaceuticals with little concern for the depressed.
Studies have found a link between inflammation and depression, especially in those who do not respond to prescription antidepressants. Studies also suggest that indicators of inflammation may predict how severe someone’s depressive symptoms will be.
Depression may stem from a variety of situations, with different experiences defining the way one is affected.
Biological, psychological, environmental and social influences all play an important role in depression, with factors including:
– Significant, stressful life events
– Past traumas
– Head injuries
– Drug abuse
– Chronic stress
– Chronic pain
– Previous depressive episodes (increase the risk for a subsequent depressive episode)
There are so many factors relating to depression, it can not easily be defined as one specific condition with a specific cure. Instead, many different methods are used on an individual basis to help people suffering from depression. Those who use a combination of methods typically find better success than those who try just one.
Recovering the brain with neural regeneration
SSRI drugs work by spiking serotonin levels in the brain, though it usually takes a few weeks for results to be seen. And while these drugs can be life-changing for some, others choose to eventually go off the drugs to rid themselves of side effects like sexual dysfunction, agitation, or emotional blunting.
We know that serotonin levels are not directly linked to recovering from depression. This is good news for those with serotonin syndrome, a condition where the body reacts negatively with serotonergic drugs.
The hippocampus, responsible for regulating memories and emotions, is the most commonly studied portion of the brain, and its role in depression could be major. This region of the brain has been shown to decay or shrink in participants suffering from depression.
Luckily for us, the brain is extremely regenerative. It can bounce back with the growth of new neurons and the formation of new connections. The process, called “neurogenesis” or “neural regeneration”, allows our brains to change, influencing and improving moods.
The ability of our brains to regenerate and change throughout our lifetime is called “neuroplasticity.”
Antidepressants typically take weeks to work, and it used to be chalked up to the body needing to build up a supply of serotonin before feeling better.
We now know that antidepressants do more than that – they also stimulate neurogenesis, allowing the brain to form new connections, which takes some time.
Hippocampal neurogenesis is becoming more understood in its connection to depression, and we know that antidepressants can help stimulate this process.
Taking antidepressants is not the only way to stimulate neural regeneration, though.
CBD and neural regeneration
The first FDA-approved cannabidiol drug hit the market in 2018. The drug was approved for its role in helping children with two rare forms of epilepsy: Lennox Gestaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
How does cannabidiol help control epilepsy? By protecting neurons in the hippocampus, the same place that begins to wither away in depressed people. This is where the CBD and depression connection comes in.
Scientists believe CBD has a role in protecting and regenerating the hippocampus through a few different avenues.
The endocannabinoid system:
Responsible for regulation of appetite, inflammation, and memory, the endocannabinoid system is influenced by external cannabinoids like cannabidiol. CBD can increase the brain’s levels of endocannabinoids, including anandamide.
Anandamide, known as the “bliss” molecule, increased in the hippocampus of stressed out mice given CBD. Stimulating neuron growth like this is necessary for recovery.
Cannabidiol activates 5-HT1A, a serotonin receptor responsible for controlling a number of neurotransmitters. The antianxiety drug Buspirone also works on the 5-HT1A receptors and studies have shown Buspirone increases hippocampal neurogenesis.
With the knowledge that Buspirone and CBD both work on the serotonin receptor 5-HT1A, it is likely that CBD also encourages hippocampal neurogenesis.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF):
This is a protein responsible for keeping existing neurons alive and encouraging new ones to grow. CBD has been shown to increase BDNF levels in the hippocampus of rodents in some studies.
Other studies have shown conflicting evidence, so this is one area where we still need to learn more before knowing exactly how to use CBD oil for depression.
CBD is known for activating PPAR, a receptor that manufactures anti-inflammatory and neuron-protective compounds. CBD’s influence on PPAR has also been shown to promote neurogenesis in the hippocampus.
How can CBD Oil help depression
We know that CBD helps protect existing neurons and encourages new connections in the brain. But depression is a serious condition with complex roots, and CBD for depression is a relatively new topic.
CBD relieved depression in rats after a few doses in one study. In another, CBD helped relieve depression in rats quite quickly after taking it.
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Using CBD oil to treat depression has been found to be even more effective when combined with an SSRI.
While not a direct cause and effect, we do know suicide rates for young, American men decrease in areas where medical marijuana becomes available. The verdict is still out on whether cannabis contributes to or relieves depression, but this statistic is not worth ignoring.
And when an anti-obesity drug called Rimonabant was developed to inhibit the endocannabinoid system, it was removed from the market for its terrible side effects including increased risks of depression and suicide. The importance of the endocannabinoid system cannot be ignored in these cases.
CBD acts on the endocannabinoid system indirectly. Stimulating the endocannabinoid receptors without directly binding to them decreases the risk of CBD becoming habit-forming, something many tend to worry about when using antidepressants or cannabis.
CBD and the anxiety-depression connection
People who struggle with anxiety often find themselves depressed as it can weigh down on their quality of life. This is especially the case for people with social anxiety disorder where most days are filled with fear, self-consciousness, and feelings of inadequacy.
CBD has been shown to reduce anxiety in situations of social phobias. For those who find their anxiety is a major contributor to their depression, CBD may be able to tone down the symptoms and allow users to get their lives back.
The bottom line: CBD and depression
So, does CBD help with depression? Alongside other care, CBD can have a positive effect on the hippocampus, helping individuals on the road to recovery.
It’s not an easy condition to treat because we have so much more to learn about the brain, and each person comes with a unique set of factors.
Thought patterns, brain chemistry, and external factors all contribute to depression, and they can feed off one another making it difficult to break free.
Rewiring your brain is a process that takes work. Exercise, regular sleep, healthy diet, meditation, and supplementation can all affect the way your brain fires of neurons and makes new connections.
Professional help, like talking to a therapist, can also be monumental in recovering from depression.
It doesn’t hurt to help your brain boost its own activity and grow more neurons. In fact, doing so can speed up the recovery and help keep people on the path to success.
Antidepressants and CBD are two ways to stimulate neurogenesis in the brain, alleviating feelings of depression.
Of course, CBD is no replacement for medical intervention, especially if you find yourself in a very dark place. If you’re feeling extremely low, in the middle of a crisis, or considering suicide, please seek support.
CBD can help assist in the process of recovery, but should not be used to avoid taking other vital steps.
In terms of a long-term recovery plan, incorporating CBD can help individuals treat their depression. Talk to your doctor about CBD oil and depression if you are considering using it, as you’ll want to make sure no negative interactions will take place if you’re taking other medications simultaneously.
How can CBD oil for depression help – CBD can promote neural regeneration, making new connections that help regrow decaying parts of the brain.
Depression is tied to inflammation in the brain which causes certain parts to atrophy. CBD can promote regeneration, strengthening parts of the brain affected by depression and helping them return to a healthy state.
Pairing CBD with other lifestyle changes to help depression can improve your treatment and put you on the path to feeling better.
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