Anxiety and depression are a lot more common than a lot of people realize. Many people are reluctant to seek medical help due to a false belief that they can handle the problem themselves or out of fear of being seen as weak or having mental problems. But depression and anxiety are real problems with underlying neurological causes. Luckily, CBD has been shown to have an enormous benefit in treating both anxiety and depression.
What Are The Most Common Misconceptions About Depression?
The following are the five most common misconceptions about depression. If you would like to learn more about these misconceptions and the truth behind depression disorders, read more here and here.
Depression is the same as feeling sad.
Antidepressants are the only way to treat depression (and if they don’t work for you, then nothing will).
Depression is a weakness.
Depression is a “one-size-fits-all” diagnosis.
If people just changed their attitude, they wouldn’t have depression.
What Causes Depression and Anxiety?
Scientists and medical doctors have long recognized the link between depression and anxiety. The two disorders are often comorbid, meaning that patients with one often also show symptoms of the other. It has now been widely recognized and accepted that the neurotransmitterserotonin plays a large role in the conditions of depression and anxiety. In fact, both depression and anxiety are associated with reducedserotonin action in the brain, particularly at a particular subtype of serotonin receptors (5-HT1A).
There is also evidence that depression and anxiety reduce overall activity and crosstalk between key components of the brain’s limbic system. For example, depression and anxiety can affect communication between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala and disrupt hippocampal signals, resulting in problems with normal concentration, memory, attention, and sleep. Also, neurogenesis in the hippocampus is also reduced in long-term depression and anxiety.
How Can CBD Help With Depression and Anxiety?
CBD can bind to a specific type of serotonin receptor known as the 5-HT1A receptor. Reduced activity of these receptors is known to part of the underlying cause of both depression and anxiety. When CBD binds to these receptors, it increases the effectiveness of the serotonin and thus improves mood, well-being, and happiness and decreases anxiety and depression. Most prescription anti-depressant medications target forebrain 5-HT1A receptors, making CBD an attractive non-prescription alternative for treating major depression.
There is also evidence that CBD can increase communication in key limbic structures, reversing the effects on those structures caused by anxiety and depression. For example, CBD increases neurogenesis in the hippocampus, showing that it can undo structural changes in the brain caused by anxiety and depression. Interestingly, THC (the intoxicating compound in marijuana) is somewhat neurotoxic and can cause reduced hippocampal volume and decreased cognitive performance over time, but CBD shows no such adverse effects in the brain, making it not only therapeutic but non-harmful as well.
In several different animal models of anxiety and stress, CBD has been shown to reduce muscle tension, restlessness, fatigue, and problems with concentration. In essence, CBD helped to relieve both behavioral and physiological (e.g., heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety. Animals studies have also shown that CBD can help with anhedonia, a key symptom of depression. In mice with a genetic form of depression, CBD increased their novel object exploration activities, an activity that normal mice enjoy but which depressed mice show no interest in.
While there is a lot evidence showing the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of CBD in animal models, the evidence for its ability to help with depression and anxiety in human subjects is also growing rapidly. For example, experimental evidence has shown that CBD can reduce the anxiety associated with public speaking and social phobias and neuroimaging studies show that CBD decreases activity in areas of the human brain associated with anxiety, fear, and emotional processing, including the amygdala and cingulate cortex[Zlebnik2018]. CBD can also help to normalize sleep disturbances associated with anxiety and depression (for example, it stops anxiety-induced REM sleep suppression). These means that CBD could also be a potential treatment for sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) with accompanying panic attacks and sleep disturbances.