Approximately 300 million people globally are affected by depression, making it the most common disease in the world. In the UK they think the figure is around ¼ people, which is far beyond the global average.
In this content piece, I will look at the different symptoms you can expect with depression, what the causes might be, how you can diagnose yourself or someone else, what treatments are out there and how CBD is playing a new role in treatment.
Symptoms Of Depression
The symptoms have to be broken down into how they affect the mind, body or how you act in social situations. Below is an in-depth list of the different potential symptoms you might experience, from minor to psychotic:
|Lack of joy from your normal life||Psychological|
|A feeling of sadness||Psychological|
|Difficulty with confidence||Psychological|
|Easily irritated by others actions||Psychological|
|Lack of motivation||Psychological|
|Difficulty with decision making||Psychological|
|Potentially suicidal thoughts||Psychological|
|Wanting to cry||Psychological|
|An empty feeling, feeling disconnected||Psychological|
|Reduced energy day to day||Physical|
|A low libido||Physical|
|Menstrual cycle changes||Physical|
|A loss of hunger||Physical|
|Reduced movement or speaking||Physical|
|Difficulty sleeping at night||Physical|
|Reduced involvement in favourite activities||Social|
|Difficulty with family and friends||Social|
|Lack of desire to see family & friends||Social|
|Work load is reduced||Social|
|Seeking excuses to avoid events||Social|
|Loss of interest in sex||Social|
You can read further on the different symptoms on the NHS website.
Causes For Depression
Depression is incredibly complex and can affect people in completely different ways and to different extents. Below are some of the potential causes for why Depression might occur:
- Medication – while you could be taking medication to help with a certain ailment, it is possible it is causing the depression. If you believe this to be so, check the potential side effects listed and speak to your local GP.
- Childhood Experience – There are several factors that could have created this, which can then follow you throughout your life. It could be that you were the subject of sexual of physical abuse, while equally emotional abuse can be just as damaging. You also might have experience a trauma at a young age which strongly affected you, even if you didn’t notice at the time. However, some get it from a damaged family life growing up.
- Death – The death of someone close to you can put you in a terrible psychological mindset, creating grief and easily leading to depression.
- Genetics – The annoyance for many is that sometimes it could be completely out of your hand, you could have a great life, but you’re genetically more likely to feel depressed. You should seek advice from family members on whether others have struggled from depression and whether this runs in the family.
- End Of A Relationship – The end of a relationship can hit people differently and it can be very hard to overcome for many.
- Lack Of Relationship – It isn’t uncommon for those who have struggled to hold down a close relationship with a partner to begin to feel outside and disconnected, as well as losing confidence in themselves.
- Bullying or Abuse – If you’ve been subjected to abuse in anyway or have felt bullied, whether at home or in the workplace, this can knock your confidence and create negative emotions which can be hard to get over.
- Post Natal – You should never feel ashamed if you feel depressed after giving birth, as this affects 1 in 10 women in the UK who give birth. With the right support and help this can certainly be overcome, however there is still a strong sense of ignorance on this subject.
- Mental Illness – A mental illness can certainly increase the chances of depression, while it can lead you to feeling isolated, which in turn can also lead to depression.
- Medical Issues – If you’re suffering from a serious condition, whether that be cancer or HIV, it isn’t uncommon to become depressed, as you may struggle to deal with the reality of what is to come and how to tackle the entire scenario.
- Drug Abuse – A hefty 30% of people who abuse substances are affected by depression and this is certainly not a coincidence. This also counts for alcohol abuse.
- Personality – If you tend to be someone who naturally suffers more from stress or gets more anxious than others then you could be more likely to suffer from depression.
While you may feel sad every now and then, if you feel continuously sad for 2 weeks or more then you should seek medical advice from a doctor. If the symptoms are more severe, such as suicidal feelings or if you’re considering self-harming, then you should seek a GP sooner.
A GP will be able to properly diagnose your issue, albeit they might not be able to dig deep into the reasons and sources for where the depression has come from.
When you go to your GP’s, they will ask you a number of questions around how your feelings are potentially affecting your life and affecting you both psychologically and physically. It is important you answer all of these questions honestly, so they can properly work out the best solution.
They may also perform a couple of tests on you, checking your urine and blood. This can help to identify if it has been enhanced by an issue in the body (underactive thyroid is a common finding), if you have been abusing drugs at all or just to check to make sure everything is right. Just to be clear, if you have been abusing drugs, you do not need to worry about a GP reporting you, they are here to help, not to judge you. Your conversation will remain completely confidential.
Treatment For Depression
Depression is treated in a mix of two different ways, one through life changes and recommendations and other way through medicine. The treatment also depends on the severity of how you’re affected and what they see is the risk factor level.
The important thing to remember is depression is 100% treatable and a large percentage of people respond well to the treatment, whether that be medicine or pshychotherapy.
The reason why it is so important you seek advice and not look for others to see what they have done is because everyone’s case is different. They could be suffering for a different reason, there the recommended treatment might vary drastically.
Below are a number of the potential treatments you may be offered or asked to perform:
- A self-help programme: Often they will have a manual available with a number of tips and ways to overcome depression. This is a mild treatment and often the first one they will offer, however when offered a booklet it can often make the patient feel like their case isn’t being appreciated.
- Computer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy: These are much better than the manual and have plenty of proven case studies where they have helped to turn people’s lives around. This is often a good treatment when the sufferer has issues with anxiety and self-confidence.
- Exercise: There are a huge amount of physical and psychological benefits to exercising in order to improve your mood, self-confidence and tackling anxiety. The release of endorphins helps it to act as an antidepressant.
- Wait: The most frustrating treatment to receive from a doctor is to be told they will leave it a few weeks and tell you to come back in and see if anything has changed. This is offered when they see the symptoms as very minor and potentially improved with time.
- Family/couple therapy: If the reason for all the issues comes down to confrontations or issues within your family or in a relationship then the GP might recommend the relevant therapy as a solution. However this isn’t just about finding the cause, this will also help the others in the family/relationship that can be affected by the depression. It will teach how to handle it, make sure it isn’t also impacting them and focus on their current relationship.
- Social skills therapy: If you struggle with making friends or communicating with people, or suffer anxiety in these situations, then this can be a very useful treatment.
- Hospitalisation: This is a severe treatment, but if they are a risk to the people around them or themselves then this can be the best scenario. This way, there will be nurses watching over the patient, while therapy can be offered to enable them to speak about what is the root cause of their issues.
- Medication: A GP will try to solve depression with other means before reaching for medication, however you may be offered antidepressants alongside the talking treatments. Some of the most common medications are serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclics, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants or esketamine (spravato).
Side Effects Of Medication
Each medication has its own set of side effects and it is worth talking to the doctor beforehand so you’re completely aware of how it could affect you. Some of the basic side effects people can suffer from with antidepressants can include headaches, nausea and a dry mouth. They may also find their sexual life is affected. All of the side effects highlighted above are temporary and should go away within a few days of treatment. This is also why the GP will often recommend pushing through even if you suffer from these side effects, as it can take weeks before you feel the benefits.
Also, many of the medications shouldn’t be taken by people under the age of 18, as it can have the reverse affect and can lead to them self harming. The FDA themselves actually stated “antidepressant medications may increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults within the first few months of treatment.”
On the other end of the stick, older members who take SSRI’s can sometimes see their sodium levels drop quite significantly, called hyponatraemia.
If you have any issues or you are considering stopping with your treatment, get in contact with your doctor to talk about the subject and the best action.
CBD For Depression
While antidepressants are still the go-to as a solution, the rise in CBD has allowed it to be considered as a natural alternative treatment. An added benefit is CBD tends not to have as many side effects as antidepressants.
It is important to state that the FDA has not approved CBD oil as a treatment for depression as of yet (it has however been approved as a treatment for epileptic seizures) and currently the type you buy in stores is not allowed to make any claims what so ever. Despite their usage and highlighted benefits, the brands themselves cannot talk about any of these ‘supposed benefits’ and have to label it as a food supplement to get around legislation.
Having said all that, multiple studies have shown that CBD has therapeutic benefits which can help with depression. One study showed that when consuming CBD, it had a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. It achieved this by working with the body’s endocannabinoid system, which in turn leads to a calming and relaxing effect. One other factor which is really interesting is that CBD is approved as a solution for epileptic people due to how it protects neurons in the hippocampus. This part of the brain is the area that is affected by depression and multiple studies have shown a connection.
Two more articles on the subject which are worth reading are:
The THC can help stimulate a release of dopamine in the brain, which can help people improve their state when depressed. The issue here is that CBD oil you can buy in a store has a maximum of 0.2% THC in the UK and in most of Europe. Some doctors can now prescribe THC rich CBD oil, however this is only for people suffering from extreme cases of epilepsy, therefore you wouldn’t be able to get the best possible treatment currently, until the legislation changes.
Another study also showed that when injecting with CBD, the patients very quickly had similar bodily actions to what happens when taking an antidepressant.
CBD Oil Dosage For Depression
This depends how you take your CBD, as there are an increasing amounts of forms and types available, with different strengths. The one consistency is that it is predominantly administered orally.
In general, you should be looking to consume 5-10mg per day until you have the desired results. You should also aim to consistently take CBD in order to see optimal results. Some find it takes 3-4 days to notice a difference, however for many they can notice the different within an hour or two of consumption, lasting for up to 24 hours.
If you are taking antidepressants then it is worth talking to your GP to ensure you are not going to have any kind of reaction at all or cause any issues. While many cases show they can work well when combined, in some tests it increased the level of side effects, which is why I strongly recommend consulting with a doctor if considering taking both.