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The Definitive Guide to CBD for Depression

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Although everyone feels sad or moody from time to time, more than 16.2 million adults have at least one episode of major depression every year. The condition can be mild or debilitating. Experts are always researching treatment approaches to give patients more options for improving their mental health. CBD oil could be a powerful alternative to pharmaceuticals and a useful complement to non-medical therapy for anyone who suffers from this debilitating psychological condition.

What Is Depression?

It’s important to recognize the difference between a sad mood and depression. Emotions are useful for driving our behaviors in life. Most people are motivated to take action that brings them the most positive emotions and the fewest negative ones. Therefore, they seek out activities that bring them pleasure and try to avoid those that deliver sadness or anxiety.

But emotions are complex. They also serve as a language that helps humans understand each other. Emotions influence your decisions and the friends that you make.

Sometimes, emotions don’t seem logical. You may be taking all the right actions to fill your life with enjoyment, but you can’t shake sad, angry or anxious feelings. If your sadness feels bottomless or nothing makes you happy, you may be suffering from depression.

Depression occurs when your mood is extremely low for at least two weeks. It is usually accompanied by a loss of pleasure. You may also be less interested in performing activities that you used to find enjoyable. Some people even have trouble taking care of daily tasks.

This mental health disorder can also affect your sleep, appetite and concentration. You may have low self-esteem or even feel as though life is not worth living.

Types of Depression

There are several types of depression. The condition is not always dramatic or obvious. Recognizing the varieties can help you determine whether you might benefit from treatment.

Major depressive disorder is the most common type of depression. It can happen only once in your life. Most people, however, have more than one episode. The symptoms can make you miserable and interfere with daily obligations.

Persistent depressive disorder involves low-level melancholy or sadness that sticks around for at least two years. It may not seem overtly detrimental, but it can produce low energy and make you feel hopeless. People with persistent depressive disorder may feel like their thinking is always clouded. They often have trouble making decisions.

Bipolar disorder is characterized by dramatic shifts from euphoria to melancholy. People who suffer from this condition may have periods during which they feel great. They are especially energized and exhilarated. Then, they rapidly transition to intervals of paranoia, fatigue or depression.

Seasonal depression usually hits as the weather becomes cooler and the days get shorter. It affects more women than men. So does postpartum depression, which can come on after women deliver children. Up to 10 percent of new dads can experience postpartum depression too.

Psychotic depression typically affects people with bipolar disorder or major depression. It produces symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

How Depression Affects Your Physical Health

Most people know that depression affects your mental health. It can also produce detrimental changes in your body. Some physical problems that occur in conjunction with depression include:

• Increased pain

• Persistent fatigue

• Low libido

• Reduced appetite

• Sleep problems

These symptoms occur because depression is linked with chemical changes in the brain. Some of the brain chemicals that are influenced by the disease are responsible for controlling physical functions. For example, when your levels of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters are diminished, you become more susceptible to pain.

People with depression might even get sick more often. Their immune systems can’t function well when they’re consistently flooded with stress hormones. This can increase their likelihood of developing colds and flus, which can make getting out of bed even harder.

CBD Can Overcome Barriers To Depression Treatment

More than 40 percent of people with depression don’t get the treatment that they need. Some of the barriers that prevent people from getting help with depression include:

• Lack of transportation

• No health insurance or coverage

• Concerns with people finding out

• Worries about the way that treatment will affect their job

• Not enough time

If any of these concerns have made you avoid treatment, you might want to look into CBD oil. You don’t need transportation to access it. You can buy it online and have it shipped to your house. As long as it contains less than 0.3 percent THC, CBD oil is legal in every U.S. state.

You don’t need health insurance to purchase CBD oil. Depending on the type that you buy and the way that you use it, CBD oil can be much more affordable than traditional medication for depression.

No one has to know that you are using CBD oil for depression. It comes in a variety of formulations, including vape pens, candies and tinctures.

Perhaps most importantly, CBD doesn’t affect your behavior or ability to function throughout the day. It’s safe to use whether you’re working or driving a car. Plus, CBD is associated with few side effects. More than 90 percent of people who have used CBD oil say that it has helped them.

How Does CBD Treat Depression?

Now that we’ve introduced CBD as an alternative or complement to traditional depression treatment, we would like to tell you a little more about the way that it works. There have been at least 15 significant studies that have investigated the correlation between CBD and depression. Additional research has demonstrated that CBD addresses physical symptoms of depression.

CBD and Psychological Symptoms of Depression

CBD has been found to work similarly to antidepressants. It can reduce psychological symptoms of depression, such as anxiety and the desire to wallow in a negative state.

Serotonin and CBD

Like some antidepressants, CBD affects the 5-HT1A neuro-receptor. This serotonin receptor plays a major role in controlling depression.

Although experts haven’t directly measured the serotonin levels of people with depression, they do know that this neurotransmitter is important for controlling the mood. It also regulates memory, attention, sexuality and anger.

Serotonin is made in the brain and helps to transmit messages from one area of the central nervous system to another. The neurotransmitter has also been found in the digestive system and blood platelets. Serotonin influences almost every type of brain cell. Researchers have found that people with depression may have dysfunctional serotonin systems.

After serotonin is manufactured in the brain, it makes its way through the body, exerting its effects. It is eventually reabsorbed. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, are pharmaceutical antidepressants that act by slowing down the serotonin reabsorption process. This allows the chemical to stay in the system for a longer period of time. The result is typically improved mood and mental clarity.

Administering SSRIs can improve the way that the brain processes emotionally-charged information. Serotonin is linked to reorganization of memories and the rewiring of neural pathways. Increasing levels of this neurotransmitter in the brain help people restructure emotional associations.

CBD influences serotonin receptors. When it binds to 5-HT1A receptors, CBD oil mimics the effects of the neurotransmitter. Therefore, people with depression who use CBD may experience a mood boost.

CBD and Neuroplasticity

CBD’s role in neuroplasticity has huge potential for enhancing psychotherapy treatment. Most behavioral therapies work off of the premise that your thoughts influence your behaviors. If CBD oil can change the pathways that your brain uses to form memories and produce emotions, it may also improve the effectiveness of many approaches to non-medical therapy.

Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a type of talk therapy that has been found to work better than pharmaceuticals for depression. This method helps you identify false or detrimental thoughts that limit your ability to think or act constructively.

For example, you might often tell yourself that you don’t deserve to have a great life. You might be consumed with thoughts about your flaws or insufficiencies. CBT helps you observe these thoughts without judging them. It also gives you techniques and steps for exchanging those beliefs for positive ones.

When you bring your awareness to your negative opinions, you can stop clinging to them. Every time you have a hurtful judgment of yourself, you repeat a positive phrase to counteract it. This re-wires your brain to think positively in response to certain emotional triggers.

This ability of the brain to prune and connect synapses that enhance specific communication pathways is called neuroplasticity, and it is enhanced by CBD. CBD can even help break down traumatic memories that are associated with negative emotions. This reorganization helps you associate positive emotions with hurtful triggers, potentially lifting you out of a depressed state.

CBD and Reward-Seeking Behavior

Many people have an innate response to negative emotions. They take action and shift their mindset to try to feel better. They may engage in activities that provide them with rewards, such as eating, shopping or engaging with friends. People with depression may seek out activities that make them feel bad.

This is a tricky area. Some harmful behaviors, such as abusing substances or binging on sweets, trick your brain into thinking that it’s being rewarded. However, people with depression may also stay in bed all day or avoid exercise even though staying sedentary makes them feel worse.

That’s because depression may produce anhedonia, an inability to feel pleasure. This can lead to a feeling of emptiness. People who can’t feel pleasure may never be spiritually and emotionally fulfilled.

In one study, lab rats that were given CBD experienced a reduction in anhedonia. In other words, using CBD may be able to bring pleasure back into your life. Initiating the reward cycle can perpetuate healthy habits and may reduce symptoms of depression.

For example, CBD might give you the motivation to exercise. This increases the levels of other mood-enhancing neurotransmitters and can help you maintain forward momentum.

CBD also shows promise as an intervention for addiction behaviors. People with depression often use recreational drugs to manage symptoms. This damages brain cells and perpetuates a cycle that damages mental health. CBD may reduce drug-seeking conduct.

CBD and Physical Symptoms of Depression

CBD can address some of these physical symptoms of depression. It has been shown to help relieve pain, make people feel more alert and improve sleep quality. CBD can also boost the immune system.

CBD Can Help With Depression-Induced Pain

Pain is a very real medical condition. It can be hard for doctors to treat pain because it is so subjective.

Approximately 20 percent of patients that visit primary care physicians every year have chronic, debilitating pain. These patients are four times more likely to depression or anxiety than patients who don’t suffer from persistent pain.

Individuals with chronic discomfort are more likely to have to deal with depression throughout their lives.

In other words, being in constant pain can make you depressed. Depression can also cause pain.

Approximately two-thirds of people with depression feel physical pain because of the mental disorder.

Experts can’t always pinpoint what causes pain. They have discovered that the endocannabinoid system, a network of receptors and neurotransmitters in the body, is linked to pain signals and perception.

The two endocannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2, react to certain proteins that are produced in the body. Those are called endocannabinoids. They can also be influenced by external cannabinoids, such as CBD.

CBD has repeatedly been shown to have analgesic properties. It may increase levels of anandamide, a neurotransmitter that’s involved in managing pain signals. Anandamide also helps you feel happy.

Earlier in this article, we discussed serotonin’s role in depression symptoms. This neurotransmitter is also linked with pain perception. Serotonergic medications are often used to treat pain from migraine and fibromyalgia. CBD may have similar effects treating pain as those pharmaceuticals.

CBD also has anti-inflammatory properties. By reducing inflammation, it can also lower the cause of some types of pain.

CBD Can Improve Sleep Quality

Sleep disruption is a classic symptom of depression. Some people with the mental illness have trouble falling or staying asleep. Others have trouble waking up in the morning. Oversleeping could be caused by poor quality sleep.

Sleep issues can make depression symptoms worse. Everyone needs a certain amount of high-quality sleep to maintain optimal physical and mental health. If don’t feel good in your body, it’s hard to stay in good spirits.

Have you ever noticed that you’re especially moody when you’re sleep deprived? Lack of rest can exacerbate the emotional ups and downs that can come with depression. You might be able to handle stress and overwhelm better when you’re getting enough sleep. If you’re chronically exhausted, you might have a hard time managing intense emotions.

Even if you’re not depressed, sleep deprivation can increase your chances of developing a mental illness. Therefore, treating sleep issues may make you less prone to depression.

Low levels of CBD may improve sleep quality. In one study, participants with insomnia who took CBD slept longer than a group that took a placebo. Other researchers found that low to moderate doses of CBD improved sleep length and quality, but higher doses affected REM sleep.

If oversleeping is a problem, CBD can make you more alert during the day. Low doses of CBD increase wakefulness. This may help you get out of bed in the morning. Staying energized throughout the day can also help you sleep better at night.

CBD Might Improve Your Immunity

The endocannabinoid system is important for regulating immunity. Therefore, using CBD to influence neurotransmitters that interact with the system can help you stay healthy if you’re dealing with depression.

When stress hormones are consistently flowing throughout your body, you can develop chronic inflammation. Normally, this is your body’s way of fighting off disease. However, if inflammation occurs on a long-term basis, it can reduce your ability to combat illness.

Research shows that CBD may reduce immunity in healthy individuals. If your immune system is compromised and weak, though, CBD may make it stronger. Some studies on CBD and immunity contradict one another. More research is necessary to determine the way that CBD influences your immune health.

How To Use CBD Oil For Depression

You should not stop taking medications for depression or discontinue your current treatment without consulting with your doctor. However, you might want to ask a medical professional about using CBD instead of or in addition to other approaches.

If your depression is constant, you might want to take CBD oil regularly for the best results. Dropping CBD oil under your tongue allows your body to absorb it rapidly. You can also take CBD oil in capsules, which go through your digestive system and are absorbed in the gut.

Vaping CBD lets it get into your bloodstream more quickly. This means that it also leaves the body rapidly. Inhaling CBD extract is usually most effective for acute symptoms, such as pain flare-ups or anxiety attacks.

No matter how you use CBD, you should start with a low dose and gradually increase it as necessary. Many people begin by taking 5 to 10 milligrams once or twice a day. After a week, you should be able to notice how it affects you. If you don’t notice a difference in your depression symptoms, you might want to try:

• Increasing the dosage

• Taking the CBD more frequently

• Using a different method of administration

• Trying a different strain

Everyone responds differently to CBD. A product that works well for one person may have no effects on another. Be sure you’re using only the best CBD oils as quality and purity can vary considerably from company to company. Also, your body is constantly changing. The same product or dosage may produce distinct results over time.

Keeping a record of your depression symptoms and CBD usage can help you track and analyze its effectiveness. Write down:

• Any depression symptoms that you’re having as well as their intensity

• The dosage of CBD that you take

• When you take the CBD

• How you feel after taking CBD

Sometimes, it’s difficult to notice the subtle changes that CBD can bring about. Monitoring the way that you feel can provide you with an objective assessment of its value. You can always experiment with a different type of CBD product or change your dosage if you feel that it’s not working the way that it once did.

How We Scored the Top 40 Best CBD List

Our methodology was based on the average score of a CBD Oil brand across eleven currently published rankings. Plus, points for how many rankings each brand was featured in. Each brand's final score was then configured based on a 5.0 scale.