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The World Health Organization (WHO), has started a campaign that encourages people to overcome the stigma and seek treatment, launching its World Health Day, on April 17. The public health community worldwide is recognizing the damage caused by the silence over depression and mental illness and has raised the slogan “Depression: Let’s Talk”, to mark the day.
So, let’s talk. For those seeking treatment, it also comes as a great relief that health professionals are increasingly recognizing the medical benefits of cannabis, particularly in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mood related disorders.
With depression being one of the leading causes of ill health and disability, the lack of support for people with mental health disorders, coupled with a fear of being stigmatized, has prevented many from accessing the treatment they need to lead healthy, productive lives.
Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.
Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:
Symptoms must last at least two weeks for a diagnosis of depression.
Also, medical conditions (e.g., thyroid problems, a brain tumour or vitamin deficiency) can mimic symptoms of depression so it is important to rule out general medical causes.
Depression affects an estimated one in 15 adults (6.7%) in any given year. And one in six people (16.6%) will experience depression at some time in their life. Depression can strike at any time, but on average, first appears during the late teens to mid-20s. Women are more likely than men to experience depression. Some studies show that one-third of women will experience a major depressive episode in their lifetime.
With global awareness, treatment has become more accessible to people suffering from depression. However, even in people that benefit from using antidepressants, the side-effects, bot short-and long-term, remain a concern. What is the alternative?
For centuries, history has shown that marijuana has been used to treat a variety of conditions, depression being no exception. Only recently, however, have we learnt that though THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) has long been hailed as the healing compound in cannabis, CBD has powerful medicinal benefits of its own. So, why CBD for depression?
Unlike THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid. This all-natural compound found in cannabis, lacks the side-effects of traditional pharmaceuticals. In pre-clinical trials, CBD oil’s effects are seemingly fast and powerful in comparison to traditional medications.
Pharmaceutical SSRI drugs work by targeting serotonin receptors, such as the 5-HT1A receptors. Through these drugs, serotonin absorption into the brain is restricted so that there is subsequently more serotonin available. Having serotonin “floating” around in the synaptic space, means that the brain can communicate more positive signals, which, in turn, can assist in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety.
CBD treatments seem to show similar effects to those of SSRI’s in animal studies, leading researchers to believe that CBD is a safer, effective way to treat and manage depression. In fact, CBD seems to have more powerful results that traditional treatments. With the rising concern relating to side effects of chemical drugs, researchers are pushing for additional clinical trials with CBD, as shown in the latest studies proving the antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of CBD.
Despite the infancy of research on THCA and the therapeutical effects this cannabinoid, early studies have found that it is an effective treatment for depression, anxiety, gastro-intestinal disorders and has shown promise as an anti-inflammatory as well as having antiemetic effects. But what, exactly, is THCA? Tetrahydrocannabinolic acid, or THCA, is a naturally occurring acid-based cannabinoid found in raw and live cannabis plants, and it’s the pre-cursor to THC. As the plant dries, a heating process known as “decarboxylation” turns the THCA into THC. All THC-rich cannabis strains that have not yet undergone the decarboxylation process contains the cannabinoid THCA. Levels of THCA are particularly high in living or freshly harvested plants. Because THCA has an uplifting effect and is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid, it is fast becoming the preferred method of treatment for people who suffer from depression.