It’s one thing to feel happy or sad from time to time. It’s another thing to always feel this way or to experience extreme versions of those feelings for extended periods of time. The former is considered a typical part of the human experience while the latter just might be depression.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines depression as a condition where there is ongoing sadness along with a general loss of interest and an inability to complete day-to-day tasks for a minimum of two weeks.
Millions are living with depression. Three hundred million at last check, according to the WHO. They also attribute the majority of disability cases worldwide, to this condition. In addition, it has been found to have a higher occurrence in women than in men says a study reported by the National Institutes of Health.
What Causes Depression
Scientists and medical researchers are unable to pin down the exact cause of depression. What they have found though, is that factors such as biology, neurochemistry, hormones, environment, lifestyle, illness, major life events, and genetic inheritance are all contributing factors.
Different Types of Depression
Depression comes in different forms that are categorized by cause, symptoms, and duration. The four most common types are major depression disorder (MDD), persistent depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
• Major Depression Disorder (MDD)
The Mayo Clinic defines MDD as “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest.” This is the most commonly diagnosed form of depression. It is also referred to as unipolar as the symptoms displayed all share the same characteristic. Which is this case, is extreme and overwhelming melancholy.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) says that MDD “affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year and is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3.”
The day-to-day life of a person experiencing MDD is characterized by extreme sadness, lack of interest in once-loved activities, general apathy, inability to focus, loneliness and withdrawal from loved ones, overwhelmingly helplessness, insomnia, and suicidal ideation.
• Persistent Depressive Disorder
The Mayo Clinic defines persistent depressive disorder as “a continuous long-term (chronic) form of depression.” It may also be referred to as low-grade depression and at one time was referred to as dysthymia.
The symptoms of this disorder are similar to those of MDD but they are less severe and are not as visible. This makes it a challenge to diagnose. If left untreated or not treated properly, it is not uncommon to find this form of depression evolving into MDD.
• Bipolar Disorder
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) defines bipolar disorder as “a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels.” It was formerly referred to as manic depression and almost six million Americans have been diagnosed with this condition.
This disorder is further broken down into the following five types.
1. Bipolar I disorder – extreme manic and depressive episodes.
2. Bipolar II disorder – severe depressive and hypomania (less severe form of mania) episodes.
3. Cyclothymic disorder – less intense and short-term mild hypomania and depressive episodes.
4. Mixed – mania, hypomania or depressive episodes are present all at the same time.
5. Rapid Cycling – alternating between four or more manic or depressive episodes within a year.
Bipolar disorder sufferers in a depressive state have no energy, feel low, sleep too much or too little, eat too much or not enough, and think about death or suicide. By comparison, when in a manic state they have a lot of energy, feel extremely elated, have difficulty sleeping, are easily irritable and have an increased appetite for risk.
• Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
The Mayo Clinic defines seasonal affective disorder (SAD) as “a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons.” It is also referred to as the “winter blues” and affects about 5 percent of the U.S. population, says Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association).
Seasonal changes may result in SAD as changes in sunlight can throw off your circadian rhythm causing you to feel depressed. Reduced sunlight may also cause a drop in serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is responsible for your mood and melatonin for your sleep patterns.
Common symptoms of SAD include insomnia, loss of appetite, unexpected weight loss and increased agitation or anxiety.
Anti-Depressant Properties found in CBD
Studies have found multiple properties in CBD, a chemical compound found in cannabis plants and hemp, to be a great alternative to conventional forms of treating depression.
People suffering from depression either sleep too much (hypersomnia) or sleep too little (insomnia). When they do manage to sleep, they struggle to stay asleep. Studies show that CBD can help in all three instances.
Taken in small doses, it stimulates and causes you to feel more alert. Taken in larger doses it creates a calming effect allowing those with depression to fall asleep and stay asleep longer which improves their overall sleep quality.
Anxiety can be the cause or the result of depression. Serotonin is one of the many neurotransmitters found in the body and is believed to affect mood and overall happiness. Studies show that CBD can interact with serotonin receptors found in the body to reduce anxiety levels. With anxiety under control, things like sleeping and eating happen easier.
Two hormones regulate our appetite – leptin, which decreases appetite and ghrelin, which increases it. When you are depressed, these hormones go out of balance causing you to either eat too much or too little. CBD is able to interact with the two hormones to restore balance.
Inflammation is how the immune system responds to infection or disease. Studies show that depression causes inflammation to increase especially in the brain. High levels of inflammation in the body disrupt mood, appetite, sleep and other important functions. CBD has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that protect the bodies’ immune system and limit occurrences of inflammation.