25 Oct 2019

CBD and Depression Medications

CBD and depression medications can be compared by their similarities and differences. With the rise of natural, homeopathic and holistic medicinal alternatives, CBD (cannabidiol) has been in the spotlight as the newest innovation in personal health. While natural options are not always the perfect replacement for modern medications, studies and customer testimonials show that there are a range of ailments that CBD can assist with. 

Those with depression know all too well the ins and outs of understanding what works best for their brain and body. While CBD may not be the “cure-all” for someone suffering from depression-related symptoms, the flipside offers some heavier medications that may kickstart a range of side effects. Depending on those side effects, some consumers may decide that they may not be worth the discomfort.  

What to Know

Between CBD (as well as accompanying cannabinoids) and antidepressant medications, the body utilizes a few different systems to appropriately absorb the chemicals in question. With CBD, as well as every other cannabinoid, the body processes the chemical through the Endocannabinoid System, or ECS. 

We’ve covered a CBD 101 crash course on how our body breaks down this chemical, which you can look into here

Things become a bit more complicated when looking into antidepressants and the range of options that consumers have. 

It is important to remember that at its core, depression comes from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Whether the source comes from long term or situational trauma, genetics or a plethora of other potential causes, it is all about the chemicals your brain produces and at which levels this occurs. Of course the goal would be to correct this imbalance – which could be adding or reducing a range of chemicals that are being or aren’t being produced properly. This is where “finding the balance” can become a tedious task, full of trial and error. 

The Range of Antidepressants

It all begins with those individual brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. These have been associated with depression since the start of research on depression and related mental illnesses. The neurotransmitters in question when referring to depression would be serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. Most antidepressants relieve depression by affecting these neurotransmitters, whether that involves increasing or decreasing levels. Each type (or class) of antidepressant affects these neurotransmitters in slightly different ways. The different types of medications include:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) –

    This is usually the general starting point for prescribing medications to those just beginning to treat their depression. These medications statistically cause fewer side effects and are less likely to cause issues at higher doses than the other available options.

  • Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs) –

    Similar to SSRIs, but SNRIs introduce Norepinephrine management, which is related to alertness and energy. This is usually the next step in prescription medications for those who don’t respond well to SSRIs.

  • Atypical Antidepressants

    Simply put, these medications don’t fit into any of the other antidepressant categories. Atypical antidepressants change the levels of multiple neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin or norepinephrine. 

  • Tricyclic Antidepressants

    these tend to cause more side effects than more recent antidepressants. This variety of medication is usually not prescribed to patients unless a range of other options have already been ruled out. 

  • Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) –

    These also may be prescribed when other medications haven’t worked, because their side effects can become rather severe. The real dangers with MAOIs is their inability to coexist with a range of random foods, drinks, medications and other consumables. When going unmonitored, mistakenly mixing an MAOI with an unagreeable substance can lead to serious health conditions or death in some cases. 

  • Other Options –

    Depending on the recommendation of your doctor, they may decide to prescribe a combination of the types of medications listed above. There are even some over the counter options that may make these medications react differently that may be suggested. 

Negative Side Effects

Whether you’re considering medications or taking cannabidiol, side effects are absolutely possible. When taking CBD, some side effects may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Changes In Appetite
  • Changes In Mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry Mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

When taking prescription medications to help alleviate depression symptoms, consumers may experience:

Some similarities exist in this list not because of the comparison between chemicals, but our bodies have natural reactions to unknown substances with similar outcomes. 

Should I Take CBD with Depression Medication?

The short answer – not without consulting a doctor. As we always advise to our customers, a doctor’s opinion should be the very first recommendation one considers. Mentioned above, some doctors are only able to produce positive results in patients after prescribing a combination of medications. 

Depending on an individual’s reaction to a specific medication, a doctor who understands cannabis and the medicinal properties may suggest taking it in tandem with the original medication. In some cases, the use of CBD can help counteract the negative side effects of the medication while still assisting the depressive symptoms all together.

Research would show that there is one consistent red flag when taking CBD with depression medications – blood thinning. While this may be a benefit for some patients and their specific medical needs, it would still be considered a medical warning.

Jimmy Schneider

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