Is CBD Good For Mental Health?
Disclaimer: The following is in no way meant to be construed as medical advice or suggest that CBD can and will address disease, ailments, or poor health. It is solely meant to communicate some of the scientific inquiry regarding and an up-to-date report on scientific findings and potentialities of cannabidiol’s effect on the human body for educational purposes only. If you have read any of our previous educational content, you may already be aware of the physical benefits that CBD products may offer. However, if you’ve wondered what role CBD plays in mental health, we put together a variety of ways it can play a part in emotional well-being, too.
CBD & Mental Health
By definition, mental health includes cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being—playing a vital role in how we think, feel, make decisions, deal with stress, and relate to others. However, mental health isn't always the easiest thing to make sense of. Many different elements have a role in mental health—such as genetics, brain chemistry, life experiences, trauma, abuse, and family history.¹ Other factors like sleep, hormones, physical health, nutrition, and hydration also play a crucial part in overall mental health.
With so many different factors involved, it's essential to view mental health in terms of wellness. People are like houseplants with complex emotions—and environment, genetics, and personal experiences make up how we feel on a daily basis. That said, checking all of the boxes in terms of your physical health and well-being could additionally improve your mental health.
One of the most exciting potential effects of CBD use is how it interacts with the endocannabinoid systems (or ECS). Studies suggest the ECS could be responsible for regulating a plethora of natural processes in the body—like hormone releases, immune system function, sleep-wake cycles, mood, memory, body temperature, pain and inflammation, and appetite.²⁻³
While CBD won't cause you to feel high, its balancing relationship within the endocannabinoid system could prove helpful for mental health in a few ways. These balancing effects may help keep the physical body performing at its best—which may, in turn, support mental health. Furthermore, CBD may also play a role in helping better manage struggles with pain, stress, and anxiety—which all could contribute to poor mental health. (We'll touch more on that in the next section.)
A Few Potential Mental Benefits of CBD
Since CBD may help improve the endocannabinoid system's function, it could have an effect on several of the root causes of poor mental health. While personal experiences often lie at the root of poor mental health, other factors such as chronic pain, lack of sleep, severe stress or anxiety, chemical depression, and traumatic PTSD may also play a part.⁴ For some, these factors could be the bigger issues at hand; and evidence has suggested that CBD may be able to help. Below are the top five potential mental health benefits of CBD.
1. Stress & Anxiety
Frankly, anxiety sucks to deal with. It exists to help us fight or flee, perform better in school, and boost creativity.⁵ However, persistent and prolonged anxiety can cause emotional distress that contributes to mental illness and anxiety disorders like obsessive behaviors, panic attacks, and phobias, which is why it is so essential to learn how to keep stress under control on a daily basis. Anxiety disorders are the number one mental health problem in the US, affecting roughly 19% of adults.⁶
Some studies have demonstrated that CBD could help with managing anxious feelings, such as stress—which is a major contributor to any anxiety disorder.⁷ For example, one study discovered CBD may reduce anxiety in social situations. Another study took a look at the potential effects of CBD on an assortment of anxiety conditions—like PTSD, OCD, panic disorders, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorders.⁸ It's important to bear in mind that while CBD does display significant potential, further research is still needed to prove its efficacy.
The properties of CBD also seem to show soothing mental effects thanks to its relationship with the endocannabinoid system—which plays a crucial role in helping maintain a balanced mood.⁹ Reducing stress and anxiety is vital for long-term mental health, with evidence suggesting that CBD may help you feel more capable of handling the stressful situations that prompt anxiety and keep you up at night.
By definition, chronic pain is prolonged pain that doesn't go away within six months. Many things can cause it, and it continually affects both the peripheral and central nervous systems that may perpetuate the pain over time. Additionally, each person’s brain chemistry is different—meaning pain messages could feel stronger for one person than for another. That feeling of pain may put more mental strain on some than others, as well.¹⁰ One individual might experience depression and anxiety over their condition—while others may not. One study uncovered half of all people who live with chronic pain also have depression or anxiety.¹¹
However, CBD may be able to help reduce the symptoms of chronic pain. It interacts with the ECS in a way that may reduce the pain signaling system within the body, which could then help reduce inflammation—which is the primary cause of most chronic pain. As pain can play a large role in mental health, the pain-reducing potential of CBD may have a beneficial effect on mental health.¹²⁻¹³
Depression affects around 17 million adults every year.¹⁴ For some people, depression may be caused by chronic anxiety or negative experiences within their personal lives, like the loss of a family member or a great opportunity.¹⁵ This type of depression may be improved with therapy and time. For some, though, evidence suggests that depression may be a chemical or hormonal imbalance in the brain that can't really be managed without medication. The idea of chemical imbalances causing depression has been around since the 1960s, and while a new review debunks the “chemical imbalance” theory of depression, your serotonin receptors still play a role in your mental health.
While not a lot is actually understood about chemical balances or lack therof in the brain, serotonin is a chemical that carries messages through your central nervous system and plays a role in things like mood, sleep, digestion, and sexual appetite. Most antidepressants function by interacting with serotonin receptors in the brain to trigger them to function optimally when they cannot do so independently.¹⁶
While many manage depression with therapy and medication, CBD has also been investigated for its potential antidepressant properties. One study found the possible antidepressant effects of CBD correlate directly with serotonin levels in the brain.¹⁷ While CBD won’t force your brain to secrete the “happy juice” on its own, it seems to work with the ECS to facilitate homeostasis. Since the ECS is responsible for hormones and your brain chemistry, CBD may help it maintain optimal serotonin levels by encouraging a balanced release of serotonin produced naturally by your body.¹⁸
The effects of PTSD are felt by roughly 6% of adults in the US—coming as a result of traumatic experiences.¹⁹ PTSD causes individuals to relive traumatic events via flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts. Therefore, PTSD leads to a lot of avoidance tactics to help protect one’s mental state on a day-to-day basis. Further, PTSD has been shown to create actual feelings of physical pain.²⁰ The condition may also cause sleep disturbances, hyperarousal, and anxiety that could lead to physical tension and stress. In extreme cases, many of the symptoms that lead to PTSD might also bring on migraines, body aches, stomach and back pain, and more.
Some research suggests that CBD could help reduce some of the uncomfortable experiences of PTSD during regular psychiatric treatment.²¹ However, as discussed in previous sections, CBD could also have an effect on the anxiety, pain, and depression that perpetuate these conditions. Since trauma affects mental health so strongly, the potential for CBD to help reduce the intensity of relived experiences could be helpful when endeavoring to improve mental health.
Sleep also plays a primary role in mental health. Not getting enough sleep can directly affect your mood and psychological state. It may also lead to physical problems such as not producing enough hormones to keep your body functioning at its best. Chronic sleep trouble affects up to 80% of patients in an average psychiatric office and is typical in patients that deal with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and bipolar disorder.²²
However, the psychological effects of CBD could play a role in improving sleep. While it won't knock you out on its own, it may help manage some of the obstacles that do lead to sleep issues—which can consequently contribute to a mental health condition. For example, one study found that CBD may help manage the anxiety that keeps people up at night and makes a good night's sleep elusive.²³ It could also work with your ECS to help manage pain that keeps us up at night, and potentially help produce sleep hormones that improve your bodies’ ability to function.²⁴⁻²⁵ Better sleep could lead to mental health improvements, and catching Zs might just be easier with CBD in the mix.
Can CBD help with mental health?
At the end of the day, there's not really a one-size-fits-all approach to your mental health. Mental health and wellness look different to everyone, but there are many factors that can play a role in your mental health. If you’re wondering how to create healthy habits surrounding your mental health, try prioritizing self-care, physical touch, connection to others, sufficient sleep, stress-reducing activities, nutrition, water intake, and physical health to help improve your mental well-being.
Keep in mind that CBD won't improve mental health on its own. It’s a kaleidoscope of physical factors, experiences, and feelings that ultimately affect how you feel overall. But the balancing effects of CBD could help you better manage the hormones, stress, and anxiety that all affect your mental health. With surmounting evidence suggesting CBD could have an effect on many factors that can contribute to poor mental health, it might be worth looking into it as a potential supplement on your path to wellness. From CBD oil capsules to CBD candies, look at CBD as an additional tool in your belt!
Whatever loops life throws your way, Lazarus Naturals is here to support you through every step of your journey toward wellness with safe, effective, and affordable CBD that could help you feel closer to yourself—paving the way for personal well-being in your daily life as you do all you can to live your best life.