In May of 2018, Blue Cross Shield released a report that contained shocking data on the state of mental health in the U.S. The report states that Americans who are commercially insured, 4.4% are diagnosed with major depression, that’s over 9.9 million people. The number is likely higher for those that do not have insurance at all due to a lack of resources or treatment options.
It can be difficult getting the help you need and the thought of prescription medications is not an option for many. But now, more than ever, people are turning to a more accessible and natural alternative for relief, CBD.
What Is Depression
In today’s culture, depression is often misunderstood leading many to have a false understanding of the disease. In many cases, depression is seen as someone being sad, and while this can be one aspect of the disease, the illness is actually much more complex. Many people report feeling empty, or apathetic, they lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and have trouble finding purpose in their relationships, goals, and life.
The most common symptoms of depression according to the American Psychiatric Association are:
• Feeling sad or apathetic
• Loss of interest or pleasure in previously enjoyed activities
• Weight gain or loss unrelated to one’s diet
• Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
• Slowed movements and speech
• Feeling worthless, guilty, or like a burden to others
• Difficulty focusing
• Suicidal thoughts
Determining the exact cause of someone’s depression is difficult. Many claim the real nature of this illness to be a “chemical imbalance” in the brain. And while this may be true, it simply doesn’t do justice to the complexity of the illness and the difficulty in treating it. The American Psychiatric Association points to four causes, biochemistry, genetics, personality, and environmental factors. A chemical imbalance would fall into biochemistry, but there are obviously many other causes. If a person’s parents suffer, then they are at higher risk of developing depression. A traumatic event may also be a cause, and in many cases, a combination of these might be to blame.
Several studies have examined the role that the endocannabinoid system plays on anxiety and depression. Research conducted by The State University of New York looked at the endocannabinoid systems receptors interaction with other mammalian functions. They discovered that cannabinoid signaling regulates neural responses to stress ( stress hormone secretions ). In addition, they noticed that removal of important CB1 cannabinoid receptors had negative effects on 5-HT functions ( a system responsible for serotonin release ). These findings indicate that the endocannabinoid system plays a vital role in stress management and the healthy functioning of hormonal systems.
New York University’s School of Medicine took a more direct look at cannabidiol’s ability to help improve anxiety and depression. What they found was that CBD is able to directly target the 5-HT1A receptor, which is responsible for the release of serotonin. The 5-HT1A receptor is often targeted by traditional depression medications, but CBD may be a more natural alternative to achieving the same goals.
Aside from pre-clinical and clinical trials, many people continue to report on how CBD has helped improve their depression conditions. However, it is important to remember that CBD is not a cure-all for depression, more often than not, depression requires a multi-faceted approach that includes therapy, diet, exercise, and much more.
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