Mental health concerns are taken more seriously as year pass by. The most prevalent of them, representing 99% of all mind-brain illness is Depression. As a matter of fact according to an 2020 statistic from the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) at least 21 million of adults in the United State suffered from one major depressive episode. This number represents 8.4% of all U.S. adults.

However even though there are a lot of preclinical and clinical studies regards this brain disorder, treatments specifically anti-depressant drugs are inadequate at the therapeutic level for many patients.  

That has raised the thought of thinking about the use of Medical Marijuana to help those patients.  There are many indications that the eCB/endovanilloid system is involved in the pathogenesis of depression, including the localization of receptors, modulation of monoaminergic transmission, inhibition of the stress axis, and promotion of neuroplasticity in the brain.

The increased use of CBD as a legit treatment to help medical conditions like PSDT, anxiety, or anorexia has encourage more research on the possible benefits for depression.  Although is still in the early stages promising results shown in experiments with rodents foresight the positives of using CBD for alleviating depressive symptoms.

What is Depression

Depression is a mental disorder fundamentally characterized by feelings of sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, guilt, loneliness, low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy level, and poor concentration

It is one of the most frequent pathologies in Primary Care and is the first cause of psychiatric care and disability derived from mental problems.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Pathological sadness.
  • Loss of interest.
  • Decreased vitality.
  • Exaggerated tiredness.

Depression and Endocannabinoid System

The Endocannabinoid System is the physiological system that is responsible for maintaining the balance of our body and plays a crucial role in regulating stress mechanisms, both physically and psychologically. You can learn more in this article about how CBD helps reduce high levels of stress.

On a physiological level, the ECS interacts with different neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This action is mainly due to the CB1 receptors, present above all in the Central Nervous System, and to the 5HT1a, serotonin receptors.

It has been hypothesized, as occurs in other diseases, that an imbalance of the Endocannabinoid System can give rise to the pathophysiological mechanisms of depression.

For this reason, thanks to treatment with phytocannabinoids, it is possible to modulate the levels of the neurotransmitters above, improving the physical and psychological symptoms of depression.

Although the use of THC could be positive in some cases in which consumption is controlled and supervised by a professional, in most cases psychoactivity could lead to a worsening of symptoms, with THC abuse being a comorbidity factor of depression.

Instead, the use of CBD could represent a good therapeutic tool due to its different mechanisms of action, its effects and because it is not psychoactive.

What studies say about Medical Marijuana?

One study published in 2018 suggested that cannabidiol does not increase serotonin levels; rather, it appears to work by influencing how the brain responds to serotonin that is already there.
Another study found that CBD had a “clear anti-stress effect,” which might play a role in reducing stress levels that contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.

There are studies that talk about the possible benefits of CBD to help alleviate depression symptons with its interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has various functions in the body, one of them is regulation of mood.

Benefits of CBD that helps with Depression

The properties of CBD can be beneficial in relieving different symptoms of depression:

Indirectly stimulates the CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors, which are involved in the regulation of neurotransmitters related to depression
Stimulates 5-HT1a receptors, helping to regulate serotonin and dopamine levels to promote emotional stability

It stimulates the functioning of the Endocannabinoid System, facilitating its work in maintaining the psycho-physical balance, in the management and reduction of stress and in the maintenance of mental and physical energy.

It has an anxiolytic and antipsychotic effect, being of great help in case of suffering from an anxious-depressive syndrome or psychiatric-type symptoms.

It has a relaxing effect on a mental and physical level, favoring a good quality of sleep and rest and the reestablishment of natural circadian rhythms.

Its neuroprotective and antioxidant effect favors neuronal plasticity favors cognitive functions affected by depressive states

In case of suffering from depression associated with physical ailments of an inflammatory type that cause pain, the anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of CBD could also be of great help.

Dosage and Use

In order to take advantage of the properties of CBD that help relieve depressive symptoms, it is necessary to use it internally , both through inhalation and sublingual use. It is advisable to start with low or medium concentration products (5%-10%). initially using minimal doses (1-2 drops) and gradually increasing the dose until effects appear.

In any case, when choosing this path, it is always advisable to contact a specialized professional who can offer personalized advice, follow-up and, if possible, psychological therapeutic support.

CBD is a very safe substance even if used in large quantities, however, care must be taken when taking drugs or suffering from heart problems or blood pressure. For this reason, in these cases, it is always advisable to contact a health professional.

Recommendations to use Medical Marijuana specifically CBD its meant to alleviate some symptoms like stress or anxiety that can worsen the depressive state, yet, as a specific treatment for depression studies have not confirmed the short and long-term effects of CBD and Medical Marijuana for it to be recommended.

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. Depression may worsen over time if left untreated, but there are effective treatments available including psychotherapy and medications.

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 to know about any possible medication interactions.

(As of right now, Depression does not qualify as a medical condition to opt for a Marijuana Medical Card in the state of Maryland)

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