Everyone feels unwell sometimes, and that includes not just physical health, but mental health as well. It’s common for people to struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
In fact, according to a world health report from the World Health Organization, one in four people worldwide are affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives. About 450 million people currently suffering from such conditions. And unfortunately, nearly two thirds of people with a known mental disorder don’t seek help from a mental health professional.
Many treatments exist for mental health disorders, ranging from therapy to medication. One treatment is CBD. Short for cannabidiol, CBD is a cannabinoid that has shown promise as a therapy for a variety of conditions, including mental health disorders.
What is CBD?
CBD is a cannabinoid, one of more than 100 sourced from the cannabis plant. It is generally extracted from industrial hemp, so it has at most trace amounts of THC. That means CBD doesn’t come with the psychoactive high of THC, and for some people, offers therapy without the high.
CBD is used to alleviate the symptoms of many conditions. These range from chronic pain to epilepsy. It offers an overall calming effect on the mind and body, and can offer mental health support for some patients.
What’s Known About CBD and Mental Health
CBD is believed to be supportive of mental health, with the potential to treat mental health conditions including depression and anxiety. CBD has a positive effect on serotonin receptors in the brain. And serotonin supports emotional state and feelings of well being.
Research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine indicates there is limited evidence cannabidiol can improve anxiety symptoms. A critical review of CBD from the World Health Organization indicates CBD can help with anxiety, as it can reduce muscular tension, restlessness, fatigue, and problems in concentration. It can also help with social anxiety and social interactions. Additionally, CBD can have an anti depressant effect.
CBD As An Alternative to Traditional Medication
For some people, CBD can offer a low risk alternative to anti depressants and other medication commonly prescribed for mental health conditions. The World Health Organization reports CBD has a good safety profile, with little risk of addiction or side effects, so it can be a good choice for patients who are considering more serious medications that could come with unwanted side effects.
Some of the side effects of mental health medication can include mood swings, sleeplessness, and sexual dysfunction, but CBD does not come with the same potential side effects. Rather, CBD side effects are rare and typically mild, such as diarrhea or fatigue.
Using CBD for Mental Health
CBD can be an effective treatment for mental health. However, it’s always best to talk to your doctor about where it fits in with mental health treatment. It’s also important to consider which CBD products to use, as they can vary in potency, quality, and effectiveness. Generally, it’s best to stick with CBD products that carry third party testing with reports for quality, and look for products that can offer direct benefits for the condition treated. Patients who are already on mental health medications, but want to try CBD as an alternative, should discuss the transition with medical professionals.
Amelia Noble is a researcher with the CBD Awareness Project. When she’s not working, you can find her playing board games.