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CBD and Antidepressants: Can you take them together?

by | May 24, 2022

Antidepressants are among the most commonly prescribed medications and CBD is one of the fastest growing healthcare products on the planet.

With millions of people around the world using antidepressants and CBD separately, there’s a high chance that patients may find themselves having to decide whether to choose one or combine the two in future.

And with CBD increasingly being prescribed for both anxiety and depression, there’s even more chance of crossover.

While CBD is generally considered safe and well tolerated, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to combine with any and every medication.

Everything we put in our body has potential side effects and interactions and CBD is no exception.

We provide an overview of CBD drug interactions here, but in this article we’ll focus specifically on CBD and antidepressants.

Given the prevalence of antidepressants in society today we think it’s important to raise awareness around their possible interactions with CBD.


CBD, antidepressants and the potential for crossover


Antidepressants are prescribed to help patients with anxiety and depression disorders, including major depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and more.

CBD is prescribed for a wide range of health conditions, including pain and inflammation, anxiety, seizures, and sleep issues.

A 2020 audit of CBD patients in New Zealand found that “mental health symptoms” was one of the most common reasons people used CBD.

Mental health symptoms included anxiety disorders, depressive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and insomnia.

In 2018, 8.6 per cent of New Zealand’s population had used antidepressants in the past year and more than 1.2 million prescriptions were written.

With a 20% increase in antidepressant prescriptions in 2020 alone, those numbers are likely much higher today.

The fact that CBD is prescribed for such a wide range of conditions and antidepressants are so widely used means there are plenty of opportunities for crossover.

So what happens if you’re using antidepressants and you want to use CBD for your mental health symptoms or another health condition, or vice versa?

Your doctor will be able to provide expert guidance for you. But we’ll cover off some of the key considerations below.


What happens when you take CBD with antidepressants?


CBD and antidepressants are used to achieve specific health outcomes.

Antidepressants work by balancing chemicals in your brain called neurotransmitters that affect mood and emotions.

While CBD works by interacting with cannabinoid receptors in the body to support a wide range of functions and processes, including mood and emotions.

A risk of using CBD and antidepressants together is that each drug can alter the effects of the other.

In some cases, this may be beneficial. It’s possible that CBD and some antidepressants target different areas of the brain and body to produce a synergistic effect.

However, some research has found drug-drug interactions between CBD and antidepressants that can potentially reduce the effectiveness of both.

A recent clinical trial found that CBD affected the metabolism of several popular antidepressants, including sertraline, fluoxetine, mirtazapine, citalopram and escitalopram.

These interactions may lead to lower concentrations of the antidepressants in the body — resulting in a subtherapeutic effect.

Adversely, they could lead to more of the antidepressant drug being left in the body at a given time, increasing the potential for adverse reactions or even overdose.

The study authors said clinicians should be vigilant around the possibility of treatment-emergent adverse effects when CBD is introduced to patients taking antidepressants.


Doubling up on side effects


CBD may not only alter the desired effects of antidepressents, but it may also influence the side effects.

Common side effects of antidepressants include headaches, nausea, insomnia, drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, loss of appetite, constipation.

If there’s a chance that CBD makes any of these side effects worse, then patients should proceed with caution, particularly with drowsiness and dizziness, which could make it dangerous to drive.

There’s also a risk of doubling up on side effects. Common side effects of CBD include dry mouth, diarrhea, reduced appetite, drowsiness and fatigue, some of which are the same as antidepressants.

Taking both medications at the same time could increase the likelihood and severity of side effects.

The key point to stress here is you shouldn’t use CBD and antidepressants together before consulting a medical professional.

Can you use CBD for depression?

All we can say here is to search online for some of the research that’s being done into CBD’s anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects. You may be pleasantly surprised by some of the findings.

You can also ask your doctor about using CBD for anxiety and depression.


A new challenge


Drug interactions are nothing new. Every medication you take can potentially interact with others.

However, CBD is a relatively new medication and scientists are still working to understand exactly how it works and affects other drugs.

Therefore, until we know more, we recommend being overly cautious. Do your research, talk with a doctor, and pay attention to how medications make you feel.

The Ora Pharm App can help you to use new medications safely and effectively.

The app enables patients to track their medications (including Medicinal Cannabis), dosing information, symptoms, mental wellbeing, and other health and lifestyle factors using their smartphone.

Patients can learn how changes to their medication and lifestyle make them feel and adapt their daily routine for optimal wellbeing.


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