CBD vs. SSRIs – All You Need to Know
Posted on October 23rd, 2020
Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the world. Some of its symptoms include panic attacks, feelings of excessive worry, and sadness. Over the years, doctors have been prescribing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to treat it.
They have been useful in treating the depressive symptoms from moderate to the most severe ones. However, while SSRIs are safe, they have proven to have several side effects on the body, making them not a suitable option for some people. Here is where CBD comes in. CBD has become quite popular over the years, and it is not without reason.
It has become a popular option for addressing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Some people also believe it can relieve pain, insomnia, and inflammation. So, what are the differences between CBD and SSRI? Can you take them at the same time? What are the side effects of CBD vs. SSRI? If you are wondering what the answers to these questions are, and more, then read on.
CBD vs. SSRIs – Both Treatments of Depression
How do you diagnose depression? Sadly, no laboratory test can diagnose depression. To know whether you are depressed or not, a doctor will ask you several questions about your mood and behavior. You will then answer them, and through that, they will be able to know what your state of mind is. Some of the most common depression symptoms include:
- Feeling sad and hopeless.
- Changes in sleep patterns.
- Changes in your appetite.
- Feelings of guilt.
- You no longer enjoy the things that you loved to do.
- Difficulty concentrating.
When chronic depression is left untreated, it ends up shrinking the hippocampus. That is the area of the brain that is responsible for storing memories and processing emotions. It is quite risky as it can cause you memory problems in time and decrease your ability to experience different emotions.
Treating Depression with SSRIs
How do SSRIs work to relieve depression? They do so by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that carry signals between the brain nerve cells or neurons. Serotonin is a feel-good hormone that positively influences your moods and emotions and even helps with sleep.
SSRIs, therefore, work by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin into neurons. That then works to ensure that more serotonin is available in the body to enable the transmission of messages between neurons. SSRIs are selective in that they do not affect any other neurotransmitters in the body, only serotonin. Apart from depression, SSRIs can also be used to treat other mental health conditions such as:
- Panic Disorder.
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
Some of the SSRIs that have been approved by the FDA to treat depression include:
Side Effects of SSRIs
SSRIs have several side effects, which may affect people. For some people, these side effects can go away in a few weeks, but in others, they may persist. Here is where CBD comes in. It is natural and has no side effects, which makes it a viable option. Some of the side effects that you may experience when taking SSRIs include:
- Nausea and vomiting.
- Dry mouth.
- Impact on appetite, hence you may experience an increase or decrease in weight.
- Erectile Dysfunction.
- Blurred vision.
- Low sex drive.
It has also happened that some adults may tend to have suicidal thoughts after taking SSRIs. This makes it quite dangerous, and if you notice that you are having suicidal thoughts after taking SSRIs, ask for help immediately. Also, SSRIs can have serious implications with some medicines when taken together.
That includes supplements and other over the counter medications. Therefore, it is better to talk to your doctor before embarking on this journey.
Targeting Depression with CBD
Over the years, CBD has become popular among people with depression. After using it, many people claimed that it helped them deal with depression, increase their appetite, and even boost their sleep. So, what is CBD? And what is the difference between CBD and SSRIs?
Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive, unlike its other counterpart, THC. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) will make you high, hence why most people prefer CBD for medical uses. However, as much as CBD has been popular, there are still very few studies on the subject, and most of them have been on animals.
Therefore, its research is limited, and most of the information that is there is speculative. So, how does CBD help with depression?
CBD has a positive effect on the serotonin receptors in the brain. Having low serotonin levels has been linked to depression. Therefore, CBD affects how the chemical receptors respond to serotonin in the system. Contrary to what most people think, it does not boost serotonin levels but affects how the brain responds to it.
CBD stimulates the serotonin receptors (5-HT1a) in the brain, hence enabling the body to regulate the serotonin levels. The human body has an endocannabinoid system that maintains a homeostatic balance in it. It ensures that functions such as sleep patterns, energy levels, emotions, and moods are up to par.
CBD affects the CB1 and CB2 receptors within the endocannabinoid system, hence producing a potential antidepressant effect. CBD also interacts with the brain neurogenesis.
That happens through the hippocampus where new memories and emotions form. When there is a shrinking in the hippocampus, it leads to chronic stress. According to studies, it seems that CBD plays a huge role in promoting the new neurons to grow, in a process known as hippocampal neurogenesis.
CBD vs. SSRIs – Why Not Take Both?
So, since CBD and SSRIs tend to achieve the same objective when dealing with depression, most people wonder whether you can take both of them at the same time. Both CBD and SSRI’s usually use a liver pathway known as the P450; hence, it is preferable to take them at least two hours away from each other.
When you take them together, CBD will slow down how quickly the liver processes the SSRIs; hence they will last longer in your system. According to some studies, it has been reported that those people that take CBD and SSRI medications have fewer bouts of depression and with no side effects.
However, it is crucial to note that this does not work for everyone, as different people react differently to CBD. For example, there are instances where CBD could interact with SSRIs leading to an increase in antidepressants. The FDA does not regulate CBD products; therefore, it is vital to ensure that you buy a high-quality product.
The way to do this is to buy CBD products from a company that does third party testing. That will ensure that you use high-quality products that are safe and effective.
This is why you need to be careful when taking the two combinations, especially if it is not of high quality, as it may endanger your health. Therefore, please go talk to your doctor before trying these two combinations.
Transitioning from SSRIs to CBD
In some studies, CBD appears to boost the effects of SSRIs. It is, therefore, a potential option for people who want to transition off SSRIs. However, you want to do so gradually and with help from your doctor.
That is because they are professionals, and they will ensure that you are doing it in the best and safest way possible. Also, avoid sudden stopping of antidepressant medications as it may worsen your depression. Ensure that the process is gradual.
Another great potential benefit of CBD for people that want to stop taking SSRIs is that it may help deal with their withdrawal symptoms. Taking SSRIs for a long time can lead to addiction. This is because many of them are infused with prodrug opioids, leading to addiction over time.
Some of the withdrawal symptoms you might experience when moving from SSRIs include fatigue, electric shock sensations, anxiety, and even loss of coordination.
CBD may help deal with these symptoms. This due to of its interactions with the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the body. It will therefore help you deal with the symptoms without side effects.
CBD vs. SSRIs – The Takeaway
Depression is one of the most difficult experiences you may go through, and it can happen to anyone. The good news is that there are antidepressants and CBD to help combat its symptoms and to help you get a hold of your life. As seen above, it is advised not to stop taking SSRIs cold turkey, but instead, do it gradually.
Also, CBD can help with the withdrawal symptoms. However, again, please always talk to a doctor first before using CBD to treat depression. That is especially true if you are on other medications. Note that CBD is not a replacement for your antidepressant medication but may be a beneficial addition, if you receive medical clearance.
Therefore, ensure you talk to your doctor to give you the way forward. Do not go experimenting without getting all the information first. Also, ensure that you buy CBD from a reputable company.