Cannabidiol (CBD) has been the target of growing interest as a possible treatment for a number of inflammatory, psychological, and neurological conditions. With its ability to affect mood, it is now being considered as a treatment for Postpartum – or Postnatal – Depression.
What is Postpartum Depression?
PPD is a form of depression that is triggered after a woman has given birth to their child. Despite around 1 in 10 new mothers in the UK experiencing PPD to some extent, the condition does not get much attention – largely due to a stigma attatched to it. Postpartum Depression can also affect fathers and partners.
Like other forms of depression, low mood is one of the key symptoms of PPD. While some patients may be able to recover without the use of medications, some may also be prescribed anti-depressants to help treat the condition.
How Can CBD Be Effective?
Research in the area is still lacking, however, there is a growing collection of studies demonstrating the efficacy of CBD for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Researchers believe that CBD’s ability to influence Serotonin levels, through interaction with the Endocannabinoid System, could help to alleviate symptoms.
The function of the Endocannabinoid System, (which is found in all humans), is to maintain homeostasis in the body. It also plays a vital role in controlling stress and pain. CBD is known to interact with endocannabinoid receptors – which also interact with Serotonin.
Serotonin is a powerful neurotransmitter that affects mood. It is believed that CBD blocks some receptors, which sends signals to proteins to produce more Serotonin. This, in turn. helps to improve a person’s mood.
Scientists have also linked Postpartum Depression with 5-HT1A receptors (another Serotonin receptor) which are less likely to bind with Serotonin. Some theories suggest that CBD could help to trigger this interaction.
What Do The Experts Say?
In some cases, CBD may be a helpful option – particularly for people who are averse to the possible side effects of anti-depressants. However, experts stress that is should rarely be used as a sole treatment.
Megan Ellow, an expert in perinatal and mental health at Nest Counselling and Wellness, says:
“CBD, like other adjunctive treatments, could be a great option if someone finds it helpful for depression or anxiety. But … many cases of PPD or PPA are not just treating the depressive or anxious feelings … CBD doesn’t address those deeper issues.”
Although there is still a lack of clinical research on this specific area, CBD is considered a safe and well-tolerated compound. However, it is always recommended that you speak to a medical professional before using CBD as a treatment, especially if you are nursing your child.