It’s no secret that people are turning to CBD oil as a natural alternative for treating anxiety and depression, rather than use antidepressant medication. But the question remains - between CBD oil and antidepressants, which one is better?
Research shows that CBD has the potential to help relieve symptoms of these mental health disorders, but there is still not enough evidence to say it's more effective than antidepressants.
In this article we'll look at how both options work and what side effects they may have, so you can make an informed decision about which one might be right for you.
What is depression?
Depression is an ever-increasingly common mental health disorder that causes people to feel sad or hopeless for prolonged periods of time.
People who are depressed often lose interest in activities they once enjoyed and find it difficult to focus, concentrate or make decisions.
This can lead to other mental health issues, affecting someone's self-esteem and confidence levels.
People can become depressed for many reasons, including grief, problems at work, drugs or alcohol misuse and physical health conditions.
There are many different types of antidepressant medications that can be prescribed to help treat depression, but they aren't without some risk.
What is CBD oil?
CBD comes from the cannabis plant and contains chemicals called cannabinoids, which have an effect on how the brain functions.
The two main cannabinoids in the cannabis plant are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
Both chemicals act on cannabinoid receptors in your body when consumed, but they produce very different effects.
THC has psychoactive properties that affect your mind, while CBD doesn't get you high because it's not psychoactive.
CBD oil is made with CBD extract and a carrier oil. It can be found in many different concentrations and strengths and is widely used by many to help treat the symptoms of depression and anxiety.
How does CBD work for depression?
Depression can be caused by imbalances in brain chemistry, but CBD has been found to help balance this.
Cannabinoids bind to receptors in your brain that are responsible for controlling your mood and emotions, which allows them to send chemical messages around your body.
One crucial way it does this is by altering the levels of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is often referred to as the 'happy hormone' because it regulates emotions, appetite and sleep.
CBD has been found to increase the amount of serotonin in your body by inhibiting its uptake - this means more of it stays in your system where it is needed; in turn, it can help improve mood and ease feelings of depression.
It's also thought that CBD can reduce cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is often called the 'stress hormone' because it regulates stress responses in your brain. It makes you more alert and boosts energy levels during stressful situations.
If taken regularly, CBD oils may help provide relief from high cortisol levels caused by chronic stress. This can help to regulate moods and alleviate some of the negative side effects of high cortisol levels such as anxiety, fatigue and problems sleeping.
Side effects of CBD oil
People who take CBD oil regularly may experience the following side effects:
- Dry mouth or red eyes
- Increased appetite
- Diarrhea, nausea or changes to bowel movement patterns
- Low blood pressure
- Appetite changes
While this may seem alarming, the majority of CBD users never experience any of these effects, and can be very mild.
Antidepressants can potentially work better for some people and types of depression than CBD oils; however, CBD oil has less severe potential side effects.
What are antidepressants?
Antidepressants are used to treat depression and are categorized as either selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants.
They work by increasing the levels of a chemical called serotonin in certain parts of the brain.
Serotonin is believed to influence mood, emotions, pain levels, and sleep; increasing levels of serotonin can help relieve depression symptoms.
How do antidepressants work?
SSRIs prevent serotonin from being reabsorbed by the brain, meaning it stays in the synapses longer and can have a better effect on mood..
Tricyclic antidepressants work by increasing the amount of serotonin being made available to parts of the brain that regulate mood.
In both cases, it's thought that this helps relieve symptoms quickly and may even help prevent them from returning if they're used every day.
Side effects of antidepressants
Antidepressants can be very effective for many people, but they are not without their side effects.
Some of the more commonly reported side effects include:
- Difficulty sleeping
- Sweating or feeling restless all the time
- Mood swings and hostile behaviour
- Low sex drive/libido
- Weight gain
- Apathy, lack of concern or excitement
- Irregular heartbeat
As you can see, the list of side effects for antidepressants is much longer than CBD, with the effects having more serious consequences.
CBD oil and Antidepressants - which one is better?
It's difficult to say whether one is better than the other. CBD has yet to be approved as a treatment for depression, and some may not feel comfortable with it for this reason; keep in mind though, we have been using natural remedies for thousands of years.
Antidepressants on the other hand, have been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and are backed up by clinical research.
However, antidepressants can cause severe side effects which you may not be comfortable with; CBD is an unregulated substance so we aren't entirely sure exactly how it works for depression and how safe it is when taken daily over a long period of time.
In general, CBD oil seems to provide better benefits than antidepressants without causing as many side effects; however, this doesn't mean that CBD oil will work for everyone or every type of depression.
It's also difficult to say whether they're equally effective because there just hasn't been enough research done on CBD specifically for depression
While CBD oil may not have the same potential side effects as antidepressants, it can take longer to start working and doesn't work for everyone.
To decide which treatment option would be best for you, it's important to speak with your doctor about the effectiveness of each and any possible side effects.
Conclusion and final thoughts:
There is still much to be understood about CBD oil and how it affects the brain. It's important to note, however, that CBD oil seems to provide an alternative to antidepressants without causing as many side effects.
This doesn't mean that CBD oil will work for everyone or every type of depression.
As with all types of supplements and medicines, we recommend that you speak with your doctor first before taking CBD oil or antidepressants for depression.