CBD and your mood: anger, sadness and… happiness?

CBD (cannabidiol) has hit the headlines for its potential to treat a range of conditions, from anxiety to acne to insomnia!

In the past few years, scientists have developed CBD-based drugs which can have profound effects for sufferers of certain forms of epilepsy, completely changing their quality of life. This medication is available by private prescription in the UK, and is popular in the USA.

It is clear there is lots to learn about CBD!

Why talk about mood problems?

Mood is a bit of a vague term – encompassing everything from feeling low for a day to major depressive disorder! Everyone has had some struggles with their mood from time to time, whether that means having anger management issues or struggling with anxiety.

As the coronavirus tightens its grip, the impacts of widespread lockdowns are beginning to have an effect on the world’s mental health. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 4 adults have felt loneliness during lockdown, increasing to 4 in 10 for young people (ages 18-24).

Many individuals have felt lonely or low, and a large proportion of the population struggle with anxiety surrounding the disease and its impact on families and friends. Coping with negative emotions is a valuable skill - mood problems may arise out of such despair.

The charity Mind has signalled that a mental health crisis is looming following the devastating impacts of the coronavirus. Discussions about mental health are essential and relevant at this time.

What can CBD do for mood?

CBD has been studied extensively as it shows great promise in regulating brain chemistry. CBD has been found to mimic antidepressant action and help control emotion. Rudimentary research suggests that one day, CBD could be used in the treatment of mood disorders such as anger management.

Anger issues typically arise out of stress and pain. By controlling stress and managing emotions, anger issues may be controlled or even resolved. A trial from 2012 demonstrated that CBD improves the response to stress. Rodents given a low dose of CBD demonstrated better critical thinking skills in the face of stressful stimuli.

A survey by Project CBD suggested that CBD was effective at controlling panic attacks, as well as managing mood swings and restlessness. Some participants had a prior diagnosis of depression or another mood disorder.

CBD has the potential to relieve symptoms of nervousness and reduce the frequency of mood swings. Mental health issues have a severe impact on the quality of life of an individual – it is exciting to see the treatment options begin to broaden!

What’s the science behind CBD and mood?

Despite being well-studied, the exact mechanism by which CBD affects changes to your brain chemistry is constantly under review.

One hypothesis is that CBD acts as a natural antidepressant. By enhancing anandamide signalling in the brain, CBD can lift mood. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter which regulates mood, emotion and happiness!

Interestingly, anandamide is also found in chocolate in low quantities. This may be the reason eating chocolate is closely associated with feelings of bliss!

CBD prevents the breakdown of anandamide in the brain, reducing stress and decreasing the fear response. This may promote an improved mood and lead to better control over mood problems!

Can CBD help me in other ways?

There is evidence to suggest that CBD can improve symptoms of social anxiety, and improve sleep quality. Good sleep quality is linked to improved mood and intelligence, meaning that CBD can indirectly influence mood and performance by helping you rest more effectively.

Some healthy habits

If you are dealing with a mood disorder which is less severe, it is always advisable to speak to a doctor who can ask questions and lead you to therapy or medication to help control your mood.

Here are some great tips to look after your mood and stay balanced in these times:

- Take regular exercise, breaking into a sweat 5 times a week for the best results

- Eat a healthy diet without too much sugar

- Stay in touch with friends and family, maintaining a good social support network

- Keep busy with hobbies and projects so that you don’t feel restless

- Keep a journal of things that make you sad (or happy!) to help you assess triggers and control your mood

- See a doctor if you feel you have challenges you can’t face on your own

What should I do if I’m suffering mood problems right now?

In an emergency, always call 999.

Pointers to free listening services and urgent helplines:

1. www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/mental-health-services/dealing-with-a-mental-health-crisis-or-emergency/

2. www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/getting-help-in-a-crisis/

3. www.rethink.org/aboutus/what-we-do/advice-and-information-service/get-help-now/

The final word

CBD is a new and exciting potential treatment for a range of mood disorders! Research has suggested CBD can help with anger management, anxiety and mood swings – among other things.

The research is still coming in and more human trials are a necessity. For now, follow the advice of medical professionals. CBD may well be the treatment of the future!