A Guide to Cannabis and CBD for Treating Depression
Learn the research and use of Cannabis and CBD for treating Depression.
What is depression?
Depression is defined by the DSM-5 as a mood disorder that affects how we feel, how we act and how we behave. Depression causes feelings of sadness and loss of interest in things we once enjoyed. It can also lead to other physical and emotional problems that can interfere with our ability to function at work and at home.
According to the American Psychiatric Association, “depression affects one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, it first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime” (source).
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include any of the following:
- Feeling sad or having a depressed mood
- Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed
- Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting
- Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much
- Loss of energy or increased fatigue
- Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)
- Feeling worthless or guilty
- Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions
- Thoughts of death or suicide
Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression. Also, some medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumor or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
Traditional Treatment for Depression
Typically, treatment for depression is successful but the stigma associated with mental illness prevents many individuals from seeking treatment or relying on other unhealthy coping mechanisms. Anyone who believes they may be suffering from depression should seek a diagnosis from a mental health professional.
Treatments include psychotherapy (cognitive behavioural therapy), medication (anti-depressants), and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
Psychologists also recommend behaviours people can engage in to help reduce the symptoms of depression, these include;
- Regular exercise
- Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis
- Eating a healthy diet, and
- Avoiding alcohol (a depressant)
Read more about treatments for depression at The Recovery Village.
Treating Depression with CBD
The most common medication used for the treatment of depression is serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs interact directly with the brain’s serotonin system. These medications can be quite effective for treating depression as well as anxiety but are not without their problems and side effects, as with most medications.
CBD may be an alternative treatment for depression due to its effect on the brain’s ability to use natural occurring serotonin. Though it is important to note that no one should discontinue their use of anti-depressants without consulting their doctor or other health care professional. Abruptly discontinuing these medications can cause significant and unpleasant side effects.
CBD is also effective in managing other symptoms related to depression, like stimulating appetite and helping to fall and stay asleep. And as mentioned previously good eating and sleeping happens can help to lessen the symptoms associated with depression.
Why CBD over THC?
Depression often goes hand in hand with anxiety. Some individuals report experiencing some increase in anxiety with the consumption of THC as a result of the psychoactive effects. Since CBD does not cause the same high as THC it appears to be less likely to cause anxiety. Read more about using cannabis and CBD to treat Anxiety here.
How to Use CBD for Depression
CBD is going to be the most effective when used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Psychotherapy can help individuals get to the root of what is causing the depression. While CBD can help with managing the symptoms. At Envy, we do not recommend discontinuing current treatments for depression but adding CBD to our wellness routine.
Since there is not yet clinical human trials on the use of CBD for depression there is not yet a universal accepted dose. Daily use is considered to be the most effective at treating symptoms of depression. Using CBD daily helps to prevent symptoms and maintain maximum relief.
CBD capsules come in pre-measured doses (20mg) which can make it easier to use for some people but the dose is less customizable.
With the easy to use dropper tinctures are very customizable. Tinctures also come in different concentrations as well as include CBD/THC combinations. THC and CBD affect the brain differently so using them in combination can provide further relief. So, for those who do not experience the relief they hoped for with CBD we recommend trying a 3:1 CBD/THC tincture. CBD helps to counteract the psychoactive high experienced with THC, so with a 3:1 tincture most individuals still do not experience the high.
Edibles for Depression
Edibles are an easy and discrete way to consume cannabis. With Miss Envy’s CBD coconut oil you can add CBD to many of our favourite meals. It is an easy replacement for butter in baking but it can also be used in many different ways. Try making bulletproof coffee in the morning or spreading it on your avocado toast, the possibilities are endless. Check out the cannabis recipes section of our website for more ideas on how to incorporate CBD into your diet.
As always, when starting a new treatment we recommend starting with a low dose and working your us slowly until you find the most appropriate dose.