Depression. That dark gray cloud that hangs above your head. The pit of emptiness at the base of your stomach. The lying awake for no real reason. If you have ever experienced depression, you are not alone. From a female perspective, up to 1 in 4 women are likely to have an episode of major depression at some point in their lives, and women are twice as likely as men to develop clinical depression. 

We can all agree here that depression is not something rare and elusive that we should suffer individually. But the most important thing is to be aware of the symptoms of depression and have a handle on what treatment resources are out there for you. 

Although clinical depression can develop at any age, there’s a higher risk of it developing during normal hormonal changes. And with women undergoing more hormonal changes in their life cycle than men, there isn’t a huge surprise that depression seems to love clinging to us women more. This doesn’t mean that hormone changes alone are responsible for depression; other factors can play a part too, including genetic predisposition, personal life experiences, and pure circumstances. All this can contribute to the risk factors for this mood disorder. 

What’s interesting is that clinical research around the therapeutic use of CBD for depression is ongoing and presents potential promising holistic solutions. If that is making you raise a curious eyebrow, let’s first backtrack slightly to see how this condition impacts women more as well as some of the available treatment options, along with CBD.  

What Are the Symptoms of Depression In Women?

Recognizing the symptoms of depression isn’t always easy to pinpoint straightaway. It sometimes just creeps up on you and before you know it, you’ve noticed that you’ve felt it for quite some time. Although this means it can sort of fly under the radar at first, it can simultaneously impact your day-to-day life. Remembering that depression is a serious condition that goes beyond feeling down or sad for a brief amount of time is important. So, what are the things you should be wise to? Here are the most common symptoms of female depression:

  • Trouble concentrating for a long period
  • Consistently feeling that loss of appetite
  • Abnormal amount of weight loss in a short period
  • Not feeling the love for interests or hobbies as before
  • A reduced level of pleasure from your interests or hobbies
  • Feeling exhausted or weak with no direct cause
  • A sense of being inadequate or unworthy
  • A terrible feeling of being overwhelmed with guilt
  • Getting irritable or experiencing anxiousness
  • A hard-to-pin loss of hope for the future
  • Sleep issues and insomnia
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Crying without any direct cause
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts about death

We know that doesn’t make for happy reading, but this list is important because women often experience different symptoms of depression compared to men. 

These subtle nuances can come down to hormonal differences and/or different social norms between the two genders. If experts had to sum this up, women are more likely to display signs of sadness, blame themselves, and turn to unhealthy habits like emotional binge eating. But the big caveat here: we are all beautiful and unique beings and that means that every woman (and man if we’re being even-handed) experiences depression differently.

A perfect storm of psychological and biological causes mixed with life circumstances and major life events can all add up to a higher risk factor when it comes to women developing depression. That said, here are some of the most common contributors:

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) involves a shift in hormones that causes common symptoms including bloating, headaches, anxiety, irritability, and short-lived depression. While it is unclear how exactly PMS can cause these temporary depression symptoms, it’s believed that the hormonal shift may disrupt mood chemicals like serotonin. 

While depression isn’t always a symptom of PMS, there are some cases where emotional symptoms can become quite severe, disrupting daily life. This is classified as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is a type of depression that often requires treatment.

Dramatic hormone changes happen during pregnancy that can have a profound impact on mood. Depression that develops while you’re pregnant or right after having a baby is called perinatal depression. Postpartum depression refers to depression that occurs after birth. These drastic hormonal changes can cause symptoms of anxiety or depression, ranging from insomnia to feeling unable to take care of yourself or your baby. For certain women that experience significant life events like relationship challenges, lack of support, or a miscarriage, these events can create a greater risk for depression during this time. 

Another major hormone shift occurs during menopause. This can create the risk of developing perimenopausal depression. Experiencing certain life events during perimenopause like work stress and relationship challenges can increase depression symptoms during this time. A recent study showed that past trauma and negativity may also contribute to perimenopausal depression. The risk for developing depression also increases after menopause as estrogen levels are also significantly reduced during this time. 

But that’s not all, because other common factors can contribute to depression. Things you might not immediately think of runs from seasonal affective disorder, mold toxicity, hormones, thyroid conditions that impact hormones, a family history of depression, eating disorders, substance abuse, traumatic life events, long-term illness that impacts daily life, physical, emotional, or mental abuse. 

Now that we know several factors can contribute to depression, you can see how there are also different ways of managing it.  Lifestyle choices can also play a part. Here are just a few strategies to look into:

  • Therapy or counseling: This is all about finding a safe outlet to express your feelings and experience around depression. One of the major perks of this is that it can help you create a better understanding of your symptoms. Support from a mental health professional can also be a powerful tool in pinpointing the causes of depression in your life while creating healthier ways to respond. It might sound daunting but lifting the lid on the feelings we can push down, like shame or guilt, may also help certain depressive symptoms from becoming worse.
  • Get outside: This is not new news, but it’s so important to reiterate. The great outdoors is our BFF with it comes to mental health. Science backs this up too, showing that at least 30 minutes of sunlight a day can help with depression, especially for those impacted by seasonal changes in weather (as in “SAD” in the capital sense). FYI, studies also suggest that vitamin D deficiency may increase the risk of depression. So whenever you can, get out there.
  • Diet and exercise: Yes, a healthy diet will keep you feeling fit and well, but that goes for your head as well as your body. There are countless studies that support the importance of diet and its role in this mental health condition. Research also suggests significantly increased risks of depression in those with deficiencies in B vitamins, minerals like magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and other vital nutrients. Exercise is another tool to reach for when managing depression. Regular exercise is an excellent way to boost mood, balance hormones, and improve treatment outcomes.    
  • Creating a healthy support system: People who have your back are another thing to consider. Surrounding yourself with a healthy support system of positive people can go a long way to managing depression symptoms. Sometimes you spot certain people in your life that are causing you stress or exacerbating your depressive symptoms (we’ve all been there!) So think about spending less time with them or find a way to remove that negative energy from your life altogether. On the other hand, family, close friends, and positive influences are critical for managing this mood disorder.
  • Stress management: Let’s be real, it’s never as easy as “stressing less” but that’s not to say that having effective tools for dealing with that stress can’t help big time. These stress-busting tools can lessen the severity of your symptoms. If we think that emotional stress plays a sneaky role in causing depression, your fave self-care tools can give you that all-important preventative and ongoing care. Also note, stress management is key for overall health and wellness (that goes for us all!) as well as being a powerful way to cope with certain aspects of depression.

The endocannabinoid system is responsible for regulating various everyday functions including mood. Clinical studies have revealed that altered endocannabinoid signaling is found in patients with chronic pain and other chronic conditions. There is evidence that the involvement of the endocannabinoid system in eliciting potent effects on neurotransmission, neuroendocrine, and inflammatory processes may play a role in depression. There are several cannabinoid-derived pharmaceutical drugs being currently developed to target the endocannabinoid system for treating depression. Clinical research on the dysregulations of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis among the endocannabinoid system in patients with depression are being targeted as areas of interest.      

While we wait for clinical trials to produce their conclusive findings on CBD and depression, the existing preliminary and anecdotal data is overwhelmingly encouraging. CBD may offer antidepressant-like properties, working along the 5-HT1A neuro-receptor and other biological pathways. CBD may induce cellular and molecular changes in brain regions that are related to depression neurobiology, helping increase BDNF, improve synaptogenesis in the medial prefrontal cortex, and increase neurogenesis in the hippocampus. A 2021 human study found that CBD was successful in improving depression and anxiety in those with moderate to severe symptoms. CBD’s promising antidepressant properties may offer symptom management for women experiencing depression caused by hormonal changes like PMS, pregnancy, or menopause.

Tip: A comforting cup of our Refreshing Mint Tea can help soothe stressful symptoms. Pep it up to suit your routine by stirring in our Dream Sleep Tincture for a dreamy night’s sleep or our Balance CBD Tincture for support in the day.

There currently isn’t enough data available regarding CBD’s safety for those who are pregnant or nursing. While we do know that significant amounts of endocannabinoids are found in human breast milk and play a critical role in pre-and postnatal development, there are only animal studies that support CBD safety for pregnant or nursing mothers. If you’re interested in trying CBD for perinatal or postpartum depression, it’s critical to speak to your doctor first. If you aren’t breastfeeding, CBD may be a safer alternative for supporting postpartum depression symptoms, but we always recommend speaking to your healthcare provider for better guidance.   

How to Use CBD for Depression

Let’s be clear, depression is a serious mood disorder that often requires help from a mental health professional, and getting that advice is your first step. It will put your mind at rest and give you some positive guidance to move on with. Once you’ve spoken to your doctor, you can always chat about CBD. Note, this is especially important if you’re taking any medication because you need to know that it won’t interfere with it.

There’s a planning element to managing depression, which should be comprehensive, including everything from nutrition to stress management. In other words, CBD shouldn’t be the only tool in your belt here. Some people choose to include CBD into this all-around plan, others prefer to transition slowly. Whatever route you take – and you can probably guess what we’re going to say here – make sure it’s under the guidance of your doctor first.

Take it from us, cannabinoid therapy varies from person to person, so the experts advise that self-experimentation is the key to finding your groove. For example, some use CBD on an as-needed basis, others find that a consistent routine works best. As with any new supplementation, getting geeky and keeping a journal to track your experience, dosage, and frequency can shed light on what’s working for you.

Press Pause CBD for Depression

Press Pause is a brand created by women, so we innately understand the complicated nuances of our body chemistry and the challenges we uniquely face that can impact our mental health. For these reasons and more, we choose to handcraft our premium organic CBD products giving you the finest quality CBD you can rely on. We do this just for you, and women like you and we’re always happy to help you find the right products. So, if you ever need us, reach out! Shop our mood management products or reach out for more information and we’ll be happy to help.