As the use of antidepressants increases (about 13% of Americans are on them), the question of how long they take to actually start working – or to know that they will work – can become an issue. New evidence now suggests that the compound CBD (cannabidiol) found in cannabis not only shows great promise as an antidepressant, but one that shows effects nearly immediately.
As the use of antidepressants grows staggeringly high, prompting a number of questions and concerns in and of itself, the question of how long it takes for a patient to have to wait to know their medication is right for them, that the dose is correct, and that they won’t have to experience unwanted or even intolerable side effects, is quite concerning. Even more concerning is how few of them show any efficacy at all.
In fact, in a recent comparative study of 21 antidepressants, not only did it not show any really outstanding results for the efficacy of most beyond possibly moderate (with no mention of other outcomes), but out of the studies it used, 78% were pharmaceutically funded which means the results were likely tweaked, as it has been customary for pharmaceutical companies to do. For many patients this means a constant switching of meds, and the general mental, emotional, and physical rollercoaster that comes with messing with the brain in this way.
Among the many properties of CBD, one of the most researched currently is how it affects anxiety and depression, essentially the two main reasons for antidepressants to be used in the first place. In a recent study published in Molecular Neurobiology, researchers used male rodents to establish that CBD could produce antidepressant effects that both had a rapid onset (within 30 minutes) and sustained effects (still effective after seven days). Different mice were used including Flinders Sensitive and Flinders Resistant Line mice which are bred to be very sensitive to stress testing. They were all subjected to a forced swim test. In all breeds CBD was found to show nearly immediate effects, as well as sustained effects (after 7 days) from just one dose. The effects may be related to changes in synaptic behavior – which means it may actually modify the way in which the brain and central nervous system as a whole communicate.
As CBD is known to have practically no negative side effects apart from possibly a dry mouth, and in some cases diarrhea, it opens up a whole new door for the treatment of depressive disorders, and one that doesn’t come with the catalogue of detrimental side effects associated with nearly every pharmaceutical antidepressant. If you don’t believe it, take a look at the insert to any antidepressant packaging. In fact, I dare you to find one that doesn’t list suicide as a possibility…which is kind of ironic (and scary) for medications meant to stop depression.
Luckily, CBD has never led to a suicide, and still shows positive results! As it also has a nearly immediate onset of action, it may very well end up being the best answer to the ongoing question of how to treat depression.