In recent years, CBD has risen to the forefront of the media, touted as a treatment for everything from arthritis to dementia. Simultaneously, we are facing a mental health epidemic, with 300 million people around the globe diagnosed with depression alone.

Depression doesn’t just impact someone’s mood. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and the economic burden it brings is estimated at an incredible $210.5 billion. Evidently, something needs to be done.

And yet, although more patients are being prescribed antidepressants than ever before, the epidemic does not seem to be going away. In fact, it’s getting worse. It’s at this point that people are starting to look for alternative ways to treat their depression.

What is depression and how is it treated?

Clinical depression – also known as major depressive disorder – is a serious medical illness that affects the way someone feels, thinks, and acts.

There are many combinations of symptoms, but when being assessed for depression, patients will be asked if they have experienced any of the following for ‘more than half the days’ over the last two weeks:

  • Little interest or pleasure in doing things
  • Feeling down, depressed, or hopeless
  • Trouble falling or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
  • Feeling tired, or having little energy
  • Having a poor appetite or overeating
  • Feeling like a failure or let-down
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Either speaking slowly, or being fidgety enough for people to notice
  • Feeling like death or hurting oneself is a better option than living

Depression is treated based on its severity. Usually, mild depression can be treated with lifestyle change recommendations, self-help, and mental health apps.

Mild to moderate depression is usually treated with talking therapies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), or counselling. If the depression is classed as moderate to severe, doctors may recommend antidepressants, either on their own or alongside a course of CBT.

What antidepressants are there?

There are several types of antidepressant. Most people with depression are prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, first. These increase levels of serotonin in the brain by blocking its reuptake – this forces the brain to produce more.

Other types of antidepressant include:

  • Selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs)
  • Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

Antidepressants can be very effective in reducing the day-to-day symptoms of depression. They often offer patients a new lease of life, and give them the ability to do things they couldn’t beforehand.

However, most antidepressants come with unpleasant side effects. Many people experience nausea, sudden weight loss or weight gain, sexual problems, fatigue and drowsiness, dry mouth, insomnia, headaches, constipation, and even increased depression over time.

Although for many, a few side effects is greatly outweighed by the benefits that antidepressants can bring, others are looking for alternative solutions. One such solution is CBD.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is the non psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants. It’s been found to work in a similar way to some antidepressants, with studies showing its ability to activate 5-HT1A receptors, which are crucial to serotonin production.

Taking CBD regularly also helps maintain a state of homeostasis within the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a recent discovery, and scientists have found that it is responsible for a lot of mood related functions within the body, including appetite, sleep, mood, and stress.

By ensuring that the ECS is working efficiently, it is suspected that one is able to stave off depression, or at least reduce the symptoms.

How can I treat depression with CBD?

CBD is not a medicine, so we do not recommend substituting your current antidepressant regime for it without speaking to your doctor first.

If you would like to start taking CBD as a supplementary mood-enhancer alongside your current medication regime, Smart CBD recommends first seeking advice from your doctor (in case there are any unpleasant interactions) and then, if all is safe, taking a look at our full-spectrum range of CBD pastes, balms, and oils here.