- Depression is a mood disorder that produces not only emotional symptoms such as pervasive sadness but also physical symptoms such as aches and pains.
- The condition affects 16.2 million Americans and roughly 300 million people worldwide.
- Researchers believe that CBD may offer an alternative to antidepressant pharmaceuticals.
Feeling a little down in the dumps is a normal reaction to negative life experiences. But depression is more than just a reaction—it is more than disappointment or grief. It is the absence of joy, a sense of hopelessness, and an inability to concentrate or make decisions. It can rob sufferers of relationships, careers, and happy, productive lives. While proper medical care for this serious mental health condition is a must, researchers believe that CBD may also be able to help.
With numerous possible risk factors, depression can afflict anyone at any time. The condition turns simple, everyday tasks into arduous efforts by making sufferers feel overwhelmingly sad, listless, and unfo- cused. At its worst, depression can cause feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness that lead to suicidal thoughts. But the good news is that depression can be treated by integrating CBD with holistic approaches, including mental health counseling, meditation, and lifestyle changes around food and nutrition.
Scientists know that there are biological and neurological factors, and that genetics and gender play a role. Other possible causes include:
- Low self-esteem
- Substance abuse
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Chronic illness
- Certain prescription medications
- Biochemical issues such as nutrient deficiencies, inflammation, and hormonal imbalances
New studies show that in some cases depression may be caused by an underlying issue in the endocannabinoid system, which makes CBD a promising treatment to try.
When it comes to mood disorders, sufferers really have two sets of symp- toms—the emotional and the physical. Emotional symptoms may include:
- Excessive irritability
- Loss of interest in formerly happy pursuits
- Low self-esteem or feelings of guilt
- Focusing on what went wrong
- Suicidal thoughts
Physical symptoms may feel similar to the flu:
- Sleeping too much or not enough
- Change in appetite
- Change in weight
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Unexplained aches and pains
Who Is at Risk?
Depression can strike anyone at any time, but a few factors can make someone more susceptible:
- BRAIN CHEMISTRY. New research suggests that depression may be the result of malfunctioning neurotransmitters.
- FAMILY HISTORY. There may be a genetic component to depression, which means that having a family member with the condition increases your odds. It is important to note, however, that the field of study called epigenetics has found that we can change how a gene is expressed through lifestyle modification.
- GENDER. Women are much more likely to suffer from depression, possibly because of hormone fluctuations that occur throughout the life cycle, including premenstrual syndrome, menopause, and childbirth.
The CBD Answer
Studies have shown that CBD restores balance in the same way as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, but without their dangerous side effects.
HOW TO USE IT
Because depression is a pervasive condition, taking CBD regularly is key. You want to build it up and maintain its level in your system with various delivery systems. If you are taking medication for depression, check with your prescribing practitioner about any interactions with CBD.
The truth About Depression
American society has placed a heavy stigma on depression as weakness or invention. People misunderstand and minimize depression, treating this serious condition like nothing more than a bad mood. They expect sufferers to just snap out of it using their own willpower. Although it is treatable, battling depression requires a lot more than willpower. Belittling its effects has stopped sufferers from seeking the care they desperately need. Depression deserves the same respect and attention afforded to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
WHY IT WORKS
Basically, CBD works in the same way that antidepressants do. As with SSRI medications, CBD redirects serotonin and dopamine—dubbed the happiness and motivation molecules, respectively—to the synaptic space, which boosts your mood. It also helps the hippocampus—the part of the brain responsible for memory and cognition—to create neurons, which can relieve anxiety and depression. The neurotransmit- ter GABA, which is responsible for modulating sensory overload, can be dysregulated in depression. CBD appears to modify a receptor for GABA, which enhances the calming effect of this neurotransmitter.
CBD VERSUS OTHER TREATMENTS
Many depression sufferers avoid prescription medications because they say they do not feel like themselves on them. Many more believe in the stigma against depression and think that prescription meds are unnecessary. CBD strikes the perfect balance, helping to relieve symptoms without major side effects and with no more fuss than a multivitamin.
Natural Partners for CBD
Depression is an uphill battle with or without prescription medications, which means you need to make lifestyle changes that support your well-being. Adding a CBD supplement to your daily to-do list may help. You should also:
- SET MANAGEABLE GOALS. Because sufferers often feel lethargic and unmotivated, it is good to set small goals that you know you will succeed at. Little things count, such as making your bed. The point is to keep yourself focused on the next task and feeling a sense of achievement.
- GET INTO THE HABIT. Depression can drain the structure from your life as you struggle to complete normal everyday tasks. Having a routine helps you get a handle on things and move from day to day productively.
- EAT OPTIMALLY. The food you eat affects brain health.
- In general, select anti-inflammatory foods such as vegetables, herbs, restorative fats, and high-quality proteins. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as sugar, gluten, and artificial ingredients.
- MOVE YOUR BODY. Movement activities can trigger the production of your own endocannabinoids, which help to boost your mood.
- TALK IT OUT. Whether you seek solace in a medical professional, a counselor, or a friend, having someone act as a sounding board can help you sort out the symptoms and emotions of depression and keep things from getting out of hand.
A Real Problem
Most people have felt the effects of depression, whether personally or by watching helplessly as someone they love suffers. In fact:
- 11 percent of adolescents are diagnosed with a depressive disorder before turning 18;
- 6.9 percent of all adults in the country—a total of more than 16 million people—suffer from some form of depression; and
- 60 percent of individuals who die by suicide had a mood disorder such as depression.
- The numbers prove that depression is a condition we need to take seriously.
From The CBD Oil Miracle by Laura Lagano. Copyright © 2019 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
Photography by Alyson Brown