I’m sure we’ve all suffered from a depressive mode every now and again. It’s the feeling where we don’t have to energy or even the motivation to do the usual things that we do, whether it’s work, school, or socializing. But in most cases, it usually passes after a couple of hours or days. A little exercise, time to rest, or a small motivation usually gets us right back on our feet.
Some people, however, aren’t so lucky.
Major depression is a feeling of constant and profound feelings of hopelessness and despair and it doesn’t just go away. It is characterized by a combination of symptoms that hinder the person afflicted from doing work, studying, sleeping, eating, and enjoying pleasurable activities. It might occur once in a person’s life but mostly they happen several times. Thousands, if not millions, of people, suffer from a major depressive disorder and it can seriously have a negative impact on their life.
There are different types of depression that can affect anyone. Each of their causes is different but they exhibit similar symptoms, usually hopelessness, disinterest in pleasurable activities, and feelings of melancholy.
- Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression due to the changing seasons. It mostly occurs during the winter months due to the body not getting enough sunlight.
- Psychotic depression is associated with hallucinations and delusions.
- Postpartum depression afflicts new mothers due to changes in their hormones after giving birth.
The good news is that major depression is already a well-understood medical phenomenon due to extensive research. Treatments for people who suffer from this form of depression usually involve a combination of medication and talk therapy.
Meditation for Depression
One cause that a person enters a depressive state is primarily due to stress and anxiety. Meditation can help with this regard by changing how people react to these feelings. The practice of meditation trains the brain in achieving sustained focus and control. Once feelings of stress, anxiety, and grief starts to come up, it helps that the brain is able to pull its focus away from those negative thoughts and feelings.
Meditation has been found to change certain regions of the brain that are linked to depression. The “me” center of the brain, the prefrontal cortex, and the “fear” center of the brain, the amygdala work together to cause depression in a person by reacting to stress and anxiety.
Meditation helps the brain by protecting the part of the brain involved in memory called the hippocampus. Studies have shown that a person who regularly practices meditation has an increased volume of gray matter in their hippocampus where it is decreased in people with depression.
CBD for depression
CBD has also been known as an effective treatment in resolving some of the common symptoms of depression. It is a compound found in cannabis plants often referred by its longer name cannabidiol. As most holders of a medical marijuana license know, CBD doesn’t cause any psychoactive effects to the user and in fact, offers health benefits including reducing inflammation and pain management.
Due to the compound’s many health benefits, many people have been curious if it can be used as an effective treatment for depression. Many researches have suggested that CBD oil and other CBD products may alleviate some of the symptoms of depression.
The science behind the therapeutic properties of CBD as it pertains to depression and other mental illnesses is very limited. Studies that explored its benefits were largely done on animal models and are yet to be approved for human trials. The claims that it can help people with depression are either speculative or based on anecdotal evidence.
Still, there is some proof that CBD oil can benefit people with depression by:
dealing with anxiety
addressing cognitive impairment
help with discomforts like social anxiety
Research suggests that low serotonin levels in the brain are to blame for the symptoms of depression. CBD might not increase serotonin levels but it can make the receptors more responsive to serotonin.
An animal study done in 2014 treated rats with CBD and found them to react in such a way as if they have been treated with an antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication.
Further study needs to happen to conclusively prove that CBD is an effective treatment for depression. But so far, the results look promising.