CBD for Depression: Better Than Antidepressants
The staggering numbers coming out of the pharmaceutical industry about anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication is alarming. Over 41 million Americans report taking at least one antidepressant, while over 36 million report taking an anti anxiety medication. In the 13 years between 1999 and 2012, the percentage of americans on antidepressants has almost doubled, rising to 13%. After reviewing the stats, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that mood stabilizers have become the most commonly prescribed drug, at least in the United States.
With so many people being prescribed often dangerous and toxic pharmaceuticals to treat psychiatric issues, evidence is beginning to demonstrate significant risk factors associated with their use. The evidence is especially compelling with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Despite being the most common form of antidepressant medication, studies have shown they work for only one in three people, and are often not as successful as alternative therapies and changes in lifestyle choices.
There is striking research suggesting that SSRIs are actually increasing the number of suicides (or violence) a year instead of reducing it. According to David Healy, a psychiatry professor, this could be as high as another 4000 suicides each year. There also seems to be a significant number of stories surfacing of patients being prescribed an antidepressant, reporting feeling like a zombie, and then violently committing suicide.
From the breadth of anecdotal evidence, it's beginning to become apparent that SSRIs are being overly prescribed, are not being well managed and the various side effects are being ignored by mental health professionals. Often, doctors are reporting that their patients simply stop taking their prescription without medical assistance because they either feel so much better, or they feel emotionally dead. This cold turkey approach can throw the mind and body into a tailspin, which then has people developing suicidal or violent thoughts again. Considering the ease and frequency through which prescription antipsychotic medications are doled out and their dangerous side effects, many people are searching for safer alternatives
CBD - An Alternative Therapy
For many suffering through depression, anxiety and other mood disorders the options seem pretty grim. Either risk the alarming side effects of traditional prescriptions, which can potentially deaden (or heighten) emotions, or suffer on through their issues in silence. The good news is that researchers are now throwing energy towards another option, cannabidiol (CBD). This all natural component of cannabis lacks side effects and often comes at a fraction of the price of traditional pharmaceuticals. In preclinical trials, CBD oil effects are seemingly fast and powerful in comparison to traditional medications.
So how does CBD work for treatment of depression and anxiety? First, it's beneficial to understand how the traditional SSRI treatments work. Pharmaceutical SSRI drugs work by targeting serotonin receptors such as the 5-HT1A receptors. Through these drugs, serotonin absorption into the brain is restricted so that there is subsequently more serotonin available. Having serotonin floating around in the synaptic space means that the brain can communicate more positive signals, which in turn can assist in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Cannabidiol treatments seem to be showing similar effects to those of SSRIs and in animal studies by Spanish researchers, CBD seems to have even more powerful results than traditional treatments. In a preclinical animal study, CBD seemed to increase transmission of 5-HT1A thereby increasing serotonin availability.
Through brain scans of people with depression and anxiety, researchers can see that they typically have a smaller hippocampal, which is the area of the brain that is in charge of cognition and memory formation. Evidence from small animal trials has been demonstrating that CBD treatment also stimulates the hippocampus, and triggers new neuron creation - called neurogenesis. This is another powerful method by which CBD may target symptoms of depression and anxiety.
If SSRI’s and CBD oil effects have similar results, why are researchers pushing for CBD clinical trials with such furor? Primarily this is because of SSRIs are now being associated with many extremely negative side effects. These side effects can be mild, causing nausea, dry mouth, and diarrhea, or they can be extremely severe. In the many cases people report feeling fatigue, difficulty reaching orgasm, reduced sexual desire, and in some extreme cases they increase the very depressive feelings the medications are trying to treat.
There are also shocking findings coming out about SSRIs effects on pregnant women and their unborn children, as well as in some adolescents. These pharmaceuticals have been linked to developmental issues after birth, and in adolescents have lead to increased irritability, fatigue and depression. The high risks associated with SSRIs are leading patients and doctors alike to find a better solution.
This is why CBD oil could be an extremely viable alternative. Cannabidiol has generally been found to have zero side effects Also, although more research is needed to confirm, the current evidence does not demonstrate any increased risk when used by seniors, children, or during pregnancy. Cannabidiol oil may just be the solution everyone has been looking for; a safe and long term treatment plan for people suffering from depression, anxiety and mood disorders.