Mental illness is certainly not something to be taken lightly- it is thought that approximately 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem each year.
While technological and scientific advancements mean that we now have a much clearer idea of how to treat illnesses such as depression and anxiety, not all prescribed medications are for everyone. One natural treatment favoured by some sufferers of these illnesses is CBD.
What is CBD?
CBD is extracted from a specific type of cannabis plant, known as hemp says CBD Resource. It is thought to have been used for its medicinal properties way back into the 19th century, but it is only in recent years that scientists have shone the light on exactly how mental illness suffers can benefit from the compound.
When we take a dose of CBD, it binds to cannabinoid receptors in our brain and body, helping regulate everything from mood, to appetite, to functioning of the immune system, and even ability to feel pain.
CBD for depression
Depression is the most common mental illness worldwide, and causes sufferers to experience periods of low mood, a lack of self-worth, loss of interest in everyday activities, disturbed sleep, and energy loss.
Multiple studies have proven the benefits of CBD for depression, including one which demonstrated antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice. The 2010 study found that CBD activates receptors in the body called the 5-HT(1A) receptors, and this activation induces antidepressant-like effects.
CBD for anxiety
Anxiety is characterised by feelings of distress, unease, or nervousness, and a difficulty to control worried thoughts. At its worst, anxiety can cause panic attacks, which bring out symptoms such as shortness of breath, sweaty palms, palpitations, and shaking.
As with depression, CBD has been known as a treatment for the illness for years. A 2019 study on the benefits of CBD on anxiety and sleep, in which 103 adult patients were given a dose of the compound, found that anxiety scores decreased within the first month in 57 patients and remained decreased during the study duration.
CBD for psychosis
A rarer, more serious form of mental illness, psychosis, is characterised by an inability to correctly perceive things in the way that others can. The illness can present itself in hallucinations, when a person may see things that aren’t there, or delusions, which cause a person to strongly believe in something that most likely isn’t true.
Ironically, cannabis was once considered to be a cause of psychosis, but research now confirms this information to be referring not to the entire plant, but to the THC component, which gives the user a “high”. A study carried out by a team at King’s College London discovered that CBD, which is a separate component entirely to THC, may actually have opposing effects to THC, reducing abnormal brain activity that causes symptoms of psychosis.
While this article only focuses on three mental illnesses in particular, plenty of positive findings have been made into the effects of CBD on other disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar, and trauma disorders such as PTSD. It seems likely that not long in the future, CBD will be used as an effective treatment for all mental illnesses, once more research has been done.