Yoon also acknowledged the limits of medical research.
Another 2018 study, conducted on mice, examined in the mechanisms of CBD-induced antidepressant-like effects, investigating the role of serotonin and noradrenaline. Researchers found that CBD likely improves symptoms of depression through the action of serotonin. When CBD was administered with a serotonergic, or any agent that modifies the effects of serotonin, a synergistic effect was observed.
CBD as a tool in the fight against depression is now a key area of interest for consumers and researchers alike. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Numerous animal models have shown that CBD may yield great psychiatric potential, offering anti-anxiety and antidepressant-like properties. The effect of CBD on serotonin 1A receptors may influence be key.
Dr. Bonni Goldstein, medical director of California-based Canna-Centers and a subject matter adviser for Weedmaps, said she knows of anecdotes of people who said they used CBD to treat depression. “Preclinical animal data reports that CBD can have antidepressant effects. There are many anecdotal reports of patients using CBD successfully to treat depression but clinical trials in humans are lacking,” said Goldstein, who is also author of “Cannabis Revealed.”
Major depressive disorder is the leading cause of disability among Americans aged 15 to 44. It affects approximately 7% of Americans per year, as well as more than 300 million people worldwide. While this condition can develop at any age, the average onset is 32 years old; it is more prevalent in women than in men.
“There is scientific evidence to suggest that CBD has antidepressant-like effects,” Rosalia Yoon, Ph.D., a Research Scientist for Apollo Cannabis Clinics in Ontario, Canada, told Weedmaps. “From a neurophysiological perspective, the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is known to modulate functions associated with cognition, mood, sleep, pain, reward, and motivation; and decreased ECS activity has been postulated to account for some of the symptomatology associated with depression, such as low mood, anhedonia, anxiety, and decreased pain tolerance.”
If you are interested in using CBD to alleviate symptoms of depression in conjunction with other treatments, always talk to your doctor first about how to use it and about any possible medication interactions.
Cannabis contains more than 80 compounds, known as cannabinoids. The main cannabinoid that most people are more familiar with is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive substance that produces the “high” characteristic of marijuana.
One of the biggest concerns that consumers face when purchasing CBD products is the lack of FDA regulation.
CBD vs. Antidepressants
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
So how does CBD compare to traditional antidepressants? True comparisons of the effects are not yet possible simply because there is not enough research on CBD’s effects.
The bottom line when it comes to CBD’s potential as a treatment for depression is that more research is needed. Most of the evidence supporting CBD’s antidepressant effects comes from animal studies or small trials, and one of the largest reviews of the research found that the available evidence is not strong enough to recommend CBD as a treatment for depression.
CBD holds promise, but that does not mean that you should turn to cannabidiol products over traditional treatments for depression.