Cannabis and Depression: Could CBD help you find the light again?

Depression affects more people in the United States than one may think. According to the National Institute of Mental Health in 2016,  “An estimated 16.2 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode.” Depression can manifest itself in many ways but it is generally described as a prolonged period of sadness, and loss of interest in hobbies one would normally find amusing. In addition to general sadness, depression symptoms can include difficulty concentrating, sleep issues, self-esteem problems, and even thoughts of suicide.  People who are diagnosed with depression often feel like they are surrounded by darkness with no chance of finding the light.

Depression occurs when the 5-HT1A receptors in the brain don’t effectively produce enough of the molecule serotonin.  Effective serotonin production is vital as serotonin has direct control over motor function, sleep, and even appetite. When the body doesn’t produce enough, it influences the Hippocampus (the portion of the brain that controls emotions) to shut down. While currently, there is no cure for depression there are many ways to help ease the symptoms. Most people diagnosed with depression attend therapy and take prescription medication to help cope. However, many people find that the medications prescribed by doctors to have undesirable side effects like weight gain, confusion, and trouble sleeping.

Recently, with the legalization of cannabis, we have seen an insurgence of consumers using alternative methods to help cope with symptoms of depression. One of those consumers is Ethan Menendez, a resident of Colorado who was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  “Anxiety is something that can sneak up on you. You easily isolate and become depressed because you can’t do seemingly normal things, like even socialize, for fear of a panic attack. CBD has significantly reduced my overall day-to-day anxiety, thus the depression surrounding it.” Menedez has been consuming cannabis for 4 years now and has seen a huge impact on the quality of his life.

So how does cannabis help?  CBD and THC promote the feeling of euphoria, calm and happiness like traditional depression medications without the zombie-like side effects. Research also shows that both THC and CBD bind to the 5-HT1A receptors like serotonin. Once the cannabinoids have attached to the receptors, they regulate what each receptor can and cannot do. In this case, the receptors are influenced to produce serotonin more effectively. Over time the continued exposure to the cannabinoids allows the 5-HT1A receptors to work better resulting in feeling less depressed. Like all anti-depression medications, it’s important that consumers take CBD and THC daily to achieve continued results. CBD can be administered many ways but the most effective methods are via drops under the tongue in the form of a tincture or via the skin using a transdermal cream. These methods have been shown to be fastest for uptake as well as onset.



Depression: What You Need to Know – National Institue for Mental Health