Depression is a pathology that affects different areas of life, including health, productivity as well as social life. Medically, depression is a feeling of severe despair over an extended period of time. The most common symptoms of depression include a persistent feeling of worthlessness, guilt, an unhappy feeling for most parts of the day, especially in the mornings, fatigue, sleeping disorder, the feeling of restlessness, loss of interest in many activities and even suicidal thoughts. Depression is quite common and it affects an estimated 300 million people the world over. This condition is also considered the leading cause of disability in many developed and less developed countries of the world.
Most of the conventional methods of treating depression have been criticized because they result in many adverse side effects. This therefore explains why scientists and researchers have and are still exploring the antidepressant properties of cannabidiol (CBD). The reason is that CBD has shown a large spectrum therapeutic potential in preclinical models and clinical trials. It should be noted that CBD is a constituent non-psychotomimetic of Cannabis sativa that has great psychiatric potential such as its uses as antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like compound.
Over the years, research has proven that the strains of marijuana that contain CBD are safer and recommended for people with depression, unlike strains that contain more THC. According to researchers, CBD is psychoactive whereas THC is responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana and the latter could result in anxiety or fear upon consumption.
Studies have been conducted on animals to determine whether or not CBD can effectively treat depression. One of such studies was done on mice and published in the Molecular Neurobiology Journal. It is worthy to note that this study revealed that cannabidiol (CBD) can induce antidepressant-like effects in mice. Moreover, detailed findings from this study also revealed that CBD is associated with a reduction in the immobility during a forced swim test, which is commonly used as a model of depressive symptoms. These findings only go a long way to buttress the assertion that CBD has great antidepressant properties since antidepressants are known to shorten the duration of immobility, while instead lengthening swim time. For this study, the researchers made use of rodents that had been selectively bred to develop symptoms of depression. The study concluded that CBD can increase animal’s resilience in stress models of depression. Such a conclusion only goes a long way to reveal the antidepressant- like effect of CBD.
Scientists have also revealed through a study that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology that the effects of CBD were associated with increased release of a neurotrophin (brain-derived neurotrophic factor, BDNF) in limbic brain regions. Of course, the limbic brain regions are often associated with the development of depression. It is also worthy to note that BDNF is known for promoting brain neuroplasticity, including new synaptic formation and cell proliferation, which are all processes required for the antidepressant effect.
The findings from the study that was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggested that CBD promotes fast neurochemical and neuroplastic effects in limbic brain regions, which could boost stress coping strategies and equally favor resilience to the development of depression. Apparently, this assertion can be backed by the fact that the effects of CBD are often blocked when the signaling of BDNF is blocked in the brain.
Research has also proven that CBD could enhance the effectiveness of the conventional or traditional treatments of antidepressants. This conclusion was arrived at because scientists found through another rodent study that the antidepressant-like effect induced by CBD were dependent on the levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Detailed findings from this study, particularly revealed that small doses of CBD went a long way to enhance small doses of serotonergic antidepressants, like fluoxetine. Thus, it can be argued that administering CBD alongside serotonergic antidepressants could instead encourage the use of smaller doses of the latter, thereby reducing the side effects without necessarily compromising the antidepressant effect.
Even though scientific evidence suggests that CBD hold promise as a potential aid for depression, more research that includes studies on human beings need to be done on the antidepressant effects of CBD before it is accepted as a treatment. The reason is that the mechanism behind the antidepressant effects of CBD are yet to be fully understood. It should also be noted that the assertion that CBD induces antidepressant effects is not the same thing as saying marijuana is an antidepressant. This statement can be backed by the fact that certain strains of marijuana contain many other different cannabinoids that are considered potential risk to the human body.
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