According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (AADA), over 264 million people worldwide live with depression. Meanwhile, about 18% of American adults suffer some kind of anxiety disorder. You can add that to the number of people who suffer from other mental health disorders such as stress disorders (PTSD, ASD, etc.), psychosis, schizophrenia, or addiction.
When a significant portion of our society suffers from various mental health issues, finding ways to treat disorders and improve our lives should be a major priority. One new area of study that has shown promising results is using CBD products for mental wellness. CBD, or cannabidiol, is a natural compound extracted from cannabis plants. Here are three significant types of mental health disorders and what new research is finding about how CBD can help.
Anxiety, Depression and Stress
The most common mental health disorders are related to anxiety, depression and stress. This can be something relatively minor like generalized anxiety disorder, but can be more extreme like bipolar disorder or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
There has been more research on the use of CBD for these disorders than anything else, and there have been promising results. One study in Brazil found that CBD helped reduce people’s anxiety when giving a public speaking test. Another study was given to children with insomnia and PTSD, which found that “CBD oil can be an effective compound to reduce anxiety and insomnia secondary to PTSD”.
Research into this area is relatively sparse so far, and there has yet to be a full clinical trial, but CBD has already been deemed legal and safe to consume, and you can purchase it as a health supplement anywhere. We don’t fully understand how it works, but it has been recognized that it does help reduce anxiety, depression and stress.
At the more extreme end of mental health disorders are those related to psychosis, such as schizophrenia. There is even less research in this area than there is for general anxiety or depression, but there have been some promising findings here as well.
The first study of this type involved giving a 19-year old female patient a high dose of CBD for four weeks to treat her schizophrenia. It found that an improvement in her acute symptoms. Other studies since then has shown a general trend of positive results, but on an inconsistent basis. One study in 2016 gave CBD three patients with treatment-resistant schizophrenia, with one patient showing improvement but inconclusive results in the other two.
The most recent and comprehensive study ran two double-blind and randomized groups, comparing the effect of CBD vs a placebo with schizophrenics or people with other non-affective psychotic disorders. The results found that the groups taking CBD showed greater improvements in their psychotic symptoms.
Considering the relative safety of CBD as a treatment (either as a primary or supplementary dose) could have a big impact on people with psychosis, especially those for whom other treatments or medications have proven ineffective.
The other area of mental health where a small amount of research into whether or not CBD can help is with addiction and substance abuse. There are two ways in which CBD has shown promising results when used in addiction recovery treatments. The first is by reducing a patient’s anxiety and stress when their addictive tendencies are triggered. This could help prevent the amount or frequencies of relapses in a recovering addict. The other area is in the impact CBD has on the brain circuitry that triggers cravings and behaviors related to seeking and self-destruction.
One study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 2019 performed a double-blind test on 42 heroin addicts. They were given either a placebo or CBD, and then shown videos related to heroin to try and trigger cravings. The results showed that “acute CBD administration… significantly reduced both craving and anxiety induced by the presentation of salient drug cues compared with neutral cues.”
There still needs to be more research into the benefit of CBD on our mental health, both in terms of quantity and in-depth quality. However, as studies into this topic become more sophisticated, we are gaining a greater understanding of how it works and seeing the results it can achieve. The next 10 years of CBD study will definitely be something to watch with keen interest.