Are you looking into CBD to alleviate a mental health condition of yours or a loved one? If so, you’re not alone.
Every year, millions of Americans live with a form of mental illness. Some are aware of it, some are not. Some are getting professional help, while others are hesitant to get help or may not want to admit that they have a problem.
READ: Louisville CBD Company Founder’s Story, “How CBD Helped Me Through Anxiety“
The stigma of mental illness remains strong, in spite of how rampant it has become. But mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. If you are suffering from mental illness, please seek professional help. You don’t have to suffer in silence.
There are five major categories of mental illnesses1:
- Anxiety Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Schizophrenia and Psychotic Disorders
- Eating Disorders
With the growth of the CBD industry, experts are examining the potential of CBD to help alleviate certain mental illnesses.
A study done on the effects of CBD on psychiatric disorders stated, “CBD has therapeutic potential over a wide range of non-psychiatric and psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis. Although the pharmacological effects of CBD in different biological systems have been extensively investigated by in vitro studies, the mechanisms responsible for its therapeutic potential are still not clear.”2
Much more research is required for us to fully understand CBD’s potential to alleviate mental illness. Studies have been done on a range of mental illness categories. Some conditions do seem to show improvement with the introduction of CBD, however, these findings are preliminary and should not be considered medical advice.
If you are interested in adding CBD to your supplement regimen, please consult with your doctor first. If you are already taking medication for the management of a mental illness, consulting with your doctor prior to adding CBD is especially important. For no reason should you reduce or cease a currently prescribed treatment without prior professional consultation.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the five main categories of mental health as they relate to the use of CBD.
CBD AND MENTAL HEALTH
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. Anxiety affects 40 million adults ages 18 and older, or just over 18% of the population. Anxiety disorders are often easily treated, but over 60% of people who suffer from anxiety don’t get help.3
The high number of people that don’t seek help could be for a number of different reasons, from not acknowledging that they need help to skepticism of medications they could be prescribed.
This is why the idea of a natural anxiety relief like CBD is appealing to so many people. The research on the topic of CBD and anxiety disorders has come to some potentially promising conclusions.
“Existing preclinical evidence strongly supports CBD as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder when administered acutely; however, few studies have investigated chronic CBD dosing. Likewise, evidence from human studies supports an anxiolytic role of CBD, but is currently limited to acute dosing, also with few studies in clinical populations. Overall, current evidence indicates CBD has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders, with need for further study of chronic and therapeutic effects in relevant clinical populations.”4
CBD has also been found to reduce anxiety that is induced by public speaking. Getting up and speaking in front of a group of people can be nerve-wracking, and especially so for those who deal with social anxiety disorder (SAD). Dr. Mateus M. Bergamaschi, along with others, did a study testing their theory that CBD could help reduce social anxiety brought on by public speaking. They found their theory to be accurate. Those who suffered from social anxiety disorder experienced less anxiety in a simulated public speaking environment when they were given CBD beforehand.5
Another study concluded, based on their research of monitoring how the brain reacted when CBD was administered to those who suffer from SAD, “These results suggest that CBD reduces anxiety in social anxiety disorder and that this is related to its effects on activity in limbic and paralimbic brain areas.”6
Depression affects roughly 16 million people in the United States each year.7 This mental illness can display itself in minor, temporary depressive episodes to chronic, life-consuming depression.
Research has found that CBD may be beneficial for the management of clinical depression.8
CBD has been found to have antidepressant-like effects. In one study done on mice, CBD was found to be similarly effective as a prototype antidepressant drug that they tested alongside it. “CBD induces antidepressant‐like effects comparable to those of imipramine.”9
Depression can take a major toll on someone’s life. It can affect a person’s relationships, work, home life, and even their basic day-to-day functioning skills. Having an all-natural element like CBD that can help reduce the effects of depression with little-to-no side effects would be a major breakthrough for those suffering from depression.
“Anxiety and depression are pathologies that affect human beings in many aspects of life, including social life, productivity and health. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a constituent non-psychotomimetic of Cannabis sativa with great psychiatric potential, including uses as an antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like compound.”10
Bipolar Affective Disorder
Bipolar Affective Disorder is a psychological illness involving severe mood swings. These mood swings can take the form of depression or mania and could last for several months at a time.
During depressed episodes, patients often deal with great sadness, guilt, no appetite, poor sleep and have a hard time finding enjoyment in life.
Manic episodes produce the opposite reaction, with patients experiencing erratic and excited behavior. Manic patients can experience increased libido, excessive energy, a lack of a need to sleep. They can engage in behavior that’s risky or even become violent.
Some patients may have a mixed episode that involves symptoms of both a manic and depressed episode during a short period of time.
Unfortunately, there is little to no research on the effects of CBD on bipolar affective disorder.
There was one study that found that CBD was ineffective for manic episodes of bipolar affective disorder.11
A 2005 review found that there are no systematic studies of cannabinoids in bipolar disorder, although some patients claim that cannabis relieves symptoms of mania and/or depression.12
Currently, there is little promising research related to CBD and bipolar affective disorder.
“Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality. Although schizophrenia is not as common as other mental disorders, the symptoms can be very disabling.”13
Recent studies show promise of CBD use in the realm of schizophrenia. Some research shows that CBD can alleviate psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.14
A study on the effects of CBD as an alternative schizophrenia treatment found that “CBD, a non‐psychoactive constituent of the Cannabis sativa plant, has been receiving growing attention for its anti‐psychotic‐like properties. Evidence suggests that CBD can ameliorate positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. Behavioural and neurochemical models suggest that CBD has a pharmacological profile similar to that of atypical anti‐psychotic drugs and a clinical trial reported that this cannabinoid is a well‐tolerated alternative treatment for schizophrenia.”15
Other extensive studies on the effects of CBD on schizophrenia have been done on both human and animal models. “Studies in animal models and in healthy volunteers clearly suggest an anxiolytic-like effect of CBD. The antipsychotic-like properties of CBD have been investigated in animal models using behavioral and neurochemical techniques which suggested that CBD has a pharmacological profile similar to that of atypical antipsychotic drugs. The results of two studies on healthy volunteers using perception of binocular depth inversion and ketamine-induced psychotic symptoms supported the proposal of the antipsychotic-like properties of CBD. In addition, open case reports of schizophrenic patients treated with CBD and a preliminary report of a controlled clinical trial comparing CBD with an atypical antipsychotic drug have confirmed that this cannabinoid can be a safe and well-tolerated alternative treatment for schizophrenia.”16
Alongside conventional schizophrenia treatments, CBD shows promise be a very effective alternative treatment. “As CBD’s effects do not appear to depend on dopamine receptor antagonism, this agent may represent a new class of treatment for the disorder.”17
Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability that is severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss and Alzheimer’s are some of the more common types of dementia.
To date, there is no evidence that CBD is beneficial to the behaviors of dementia in general or in the treatment of it.18
There is some early research, however, that shows that CBD might be effective in aiding in the treatment of psychosis related to Parkinson’s disease.19
While Parkinson’s Disease is not in the dementia category itself, dementia can be a result of Parkinson’s Disease. While the development of dementia with Parkinson’s is a slow process, anything that can aid in the mental struggle side of a disease like Parkinson’s is a huge help to the patient.
There isn’t a lot of research out there on CBD’s effect on eating disorders, but the little that there is helps us understand the potential impact of CBD on the body’s desire to eat.
“Research has focused on brain circuits where the eCB system plays an important role, such as those related to feeding behaviour and the rewarding properties of food. Accordingly, recent findings have suggested a deregulation of the eCB system in eating disorders. At present, cannabinoid agonists are safe and effective tools in the management of diseases in which weight gain is needed, for example cachexia in AIDS patients. However, studies on the potential therapeutic validity of cannabinoids in eating disorders are scarce and inconclusive.”20
While cannabinoids like CBD could be safe and effective agents to aid in weight gain where needed, more research needs to be done to give any conclusive answers to whether CBD has an effect on eating disorders or not.
CONCLUSION – CBD AND MENTAL HEALTH
While there has been a lot of research into how CBD could benefit mental health conditions, there are no clear conclusions on CBD for mental health yet. As research continues to be conducted, we should start to see some interesting findings in the years to come. There seems to be a glimmer of hope on the horizon for some aspects of the mental health world merging with the natural health world.
CBD is not an FDA approved medication for treating any mental health condition. Please consult with your doctor prior to using CBD. None of the above information is meant to be taken as medical advice or to be substituted for the prescriptions or instructions of a licensed medical professional. While CBD could help to manage mental illnesses, it should not be added to any daily supplement or medication regimen without the consent of a physician.
- University Pittsburgh Medical Center, https://share.upmc.com/2015/05/5-types-of-mental-illness-and-disability/
- Campos, Alline Cristina, et al. “Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences367.1607 (2012): 3364-3378.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America, https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
- Blessing, Esther M., et al. “Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders.” Neurotherapeutics 12.4 (2015): 825-836.
- Bergamaschi, Mateus M., et al. “Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naive social phobia patients.” Neuropsychopharmacology 36.6 (2011): 1219.
- Crippa, José Alexandre S., et al. “Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 25.1 (2011): 121-130.
- The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
- Shoval, Gal, et al. “Prohedonic effect of cannabidiol in a rat model of depression.” Neuropsychobiology 73.2 (2016): 123-129.
- Zanelati, T. V., et al. “Antidepressant‐like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5‐HT1A receptors.” British journal of pharmacology 159.1 (2010): 122-128.
- R de Mello Schier, Alexandre, et al. “Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa.” CNS & Neurological Disorders-Drug Targets (Formerly Current Drug Targets-CNS & Neurological Disorders) 13.6 (2014): 953-960.
- Zuardi, Antônio Waldo, et al. “Cannabidiol was ineffective for manic episode of bipolar affective disorder.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 24.1 (2010): 135-137.
- Ashton, C. H., et al. “Cannabinoids in bipolar affective disorder: a review and discussion of their therapeutic potential.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 19.3 (2005): 293-300.
- National Institute of Mental Health, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/schizophrenia/index.shtml
- Leweke, F. M., et al. “Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia.” Translational psychiatry 2.3 (2012): e94.
- Deiana, Serena. “Medical use of cannabis. Cannabidiol: a new light for schizophrenia?.” Drug testing and analysis 5.1 (2013): 46-51.
- Zuardi, Antônio Waldo, et al. “Antipsychotic effect of cannabidiol.” The Journal of clinical psychiatry (1995).
- McGuire, Philip, et al. “Cannabidiol (CBD) as an adjunctive therapy in schizophrenia: a multicenter randomized controlled trial.” American Journal of Psychiatry 175.3 (2017): 225-231.
- Krishnan, Sarada, Ruth Cairns, and Robert Howard. “Cannabinoids for the treatment of dementia.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2 (2009).
- Zuardi, Antonio Waldo, et al. “Cannabidiol for the treatment of psychosis in Parkinson’s disease.” Journal of Psychopharmacology 23.8 (2009): 979-983.
- Marco, Eva M., et al. “The role of the endocannabinoid system in eating disorders: pharmacological implications.” Behavioural pharmacology 23.5 and 6 (2012): 526-536.
This piece was written for and can be found on LouCBD.