The Stoner Mom shares her CBD journey. How I quit Zoloft and Wellbutrin and used CBD for depression and anxiety instead. If you're looking to get off antidepressants and try CBD as an alternative, we've got the information to help you start making the right choice for you.
Spotlight on CBD
CBD is one of over 100 cannabinoids that have been isolated and identified by scientists. In recent years CBD has gained widespread notoriety for its ability to treat a plethora of lifelong chronic illness and disease. Some facts about CBD:
- CBD is completely non-psychoactive, meaning it won’t get you high.
- CBD is non-addictive, has minimal side effects, and can be used safely by children, adults, and animals.
- CBD can treat schizophrenia, post traumatic stress, epileptic disorders, depression, anxiety, cancer, osteoporosis, nausea, lupus, OCD, Parkinson’s disease, acute and chronic pain, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, psychosis and so much more.
I use CBD for my diagnosed generalized anxiety and major depressive disorders, conditions I have had for my entire adult life. At the end of 2017 I used CBD therapy to successfully go completely off of pharmaceuticals, and I’m eager to share what I have learned with you! I use the “Spotlight on CBD” umbrella to house product reviews (both sponsored and non), in-depth articles, videos, and podcasts about this important topic.
A Brief History of my Crazy
I was “officially” diagnosed with major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder at age 24, but I have lived with those issues since my early teens. It wasn’t until I had my first child that I sought professional help to deal with my intense postpartum depression, and that was when I was first put on Zoloft and Wellbutrin. That was 11 years ago, and I have been on them ever since.
Those medications helped me significantly but neither were able to fully combat depressive episodes. While I experienced these episodes less frequently, they still occurred, and when they did I felt powerless to be the mother I am capable of being and that my children deserve. When I finally rediscovered cannabis in my adult years, I saw that by adding it to my routine, I could live without the depressive episodes I had dealt with since puberty.
So life-changing was that discovery for me, that I built a website and started calling myself The Stoner Mom, to help spread the word of responsible and mindful cannabis use. I started this website in 2014, praising the effect that the combination of Zoloft, Wellbutrin, and Cannabis had on my mental health. Since I finally felt mentally “right” for the first time in my life, I didn’t really ponder a future where I would want to go off my meds at all.
But the years go by, we get older and better informed, and by early 2017 I had become disillusioned with being on both medications. I had found that I felt better on cannabis than on anything else, and so with my doctors approval and my husband’s support, I decided to responsibly attempt to go off both Zoloft and Wellbutrin.
How I Prepared
In early 2017 I visited my doctor for guidance on getting off SSRI’s. She suggested we start with Zoloft, and so over the next several months she steadily lowered my dose. During this time I continued taking Wellbutrin and using cannabis daily, in addition to my now much lower dose of Zoloft. Thankfully I didn’t experience any withdrawals or weird side effects during this time.
By November 2017 I quit taking Zoloft and began the process of lowering my dose of Wellbutrin in the same way I had begun with Zoloft. This is when I added CBD to my daily routine, starting with low doses of various sublingual oils that were sent to me from different companies.
Finally, in January 2018, I stopped taking my Wellbutrin altogether and buckled in for some gnarly withdrawal symptoms.
Withdrawals | Exhaustion, Depression, Anxiety, and Brain Zaps
The first 8 weeks off of my SSRI’s were rough. I experienced a major resurgence of anxiety, which I had always considered the lesser of my two disorders. These anxiety attacks were awful and often led to a full-blown depressive episode. I started sleeping more, feeling chronically fatigued and unfocused, and would often find my eyes welling up with tears as an intense sense of despair took over me.
I also experienced tons of brain zaps, arguably the worst part about going off SSRI’s. The term “Brain Zaps” refers to the electrical shock and brain buzzing sensation that is attributed to SSRI withdrawal. These were nothing new to me, as I had experienced them every time I missed a dose of Zoloft over the last eleven years. But these brain zaps were near continuous, occurring every time I moved my eyes, and were extremely uncomfortable. Brain zaps are especially tortuous while driving, and they contribute to an overall sense of mental fog, confusion, and fatigue. They continued for weeks.
I felt very disorganized and unfocused during this time and lacked the motivation to do all but the most basic tasks. I spent my depleted energy on being a mom and had little strength to do much else other than wait for the day when these feelings would finally end.
I used cannabis and CBD to combat the physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal, but it was still very difficult. I often have a hard time medicating myself with anything while in a depressive state, regardless of how aware I am of my condition, so I am very fortunate to have had my husband there to remind/demand that I take my CBD daily.
A Fog Lifted | How CBD Makes Me Feel
Somewhere in the second month of being off the pills I began feeling better. It was very gradual and I didn’t even realize I was returning to my old self for at least a week after feeling better. One day it just dawned on me that I couldn’t remember the last time I experienced a brain zap. On another day I realized I hadn’t had night sweats since I quit SSRI’s.
With the withdrawal phase over, I began to really feel the effects of CBD in my endocannabinoid system. The mental fog that had been blinding me from seeing positively began to lift and my old self-discipline and happy attitude returned.
I no longer experience anxiety attacks and my depressive episodes have ceased. Better still, I feel very aware of my emotions and mental state, as opposed to feeling “separated” from my emotions like I did when on SSRI’s. CBD doesn’t make me feel “drugged” in any way, in fact, the best way I can describe its effect on me is that when I use CBD regularly I notice a distinct lack of symptoms of depression and anxiety.
I also smoke significantly less weed now, a side effect I certainly did not expect from beginning CBD therapy. In the past I have used cannabis as-needed to pull me out of a slump, but with plenty of CBD in my system I no longer find daily cannabis use necessary for maintaining optimal mental health. This has done wonders for my cannabis tolerance, making me able to enjoy the psychoactive effects of THC in a way that I haven’t since I first started smoking cannabis.
My CBD Routine
I take 100 mg of CBD on most days, usually in the late morning. CBD is non-addictive and there are no withdrawals, so I feel less anxious about missing a day or two here and there. I primarily use a CBD oil sublingually, as that is the quickest and most effective method for absorbing CBD. Sublingual means you apply the oil under your tongue and hold there for a few minutes, allowing it to absorb. Occasionally I switch up my routine by taking CBD capsules or vaporizing pure CBD isolate in a vape pen or dab rig.
During the two weeks before my period, I am diligent about taking CBD. My depression has long been triggered by my monthly cycle, and so I’ve learned to over-treat myself during those times when I’m especially vulnerable. This is when I’ll add an additional capsule to my standard dose, vape CBD during the day, or just add another sublingual dose to my regular amount. You cannot overdose on CBD.
CBD is readily available online and there are many trusted companies offering a wide range of products. See my CBD reviews for brand recommendations. The tincture I use daily is from Endoca. Endoca also makes pure CBD crystals that I am really impressed with and will be reviewing later this month. If you prefer to vape or smoke hemp flower, check out my very own hemp line at Happy Flower Company. Full potency and terpene reports available with every strain. Federally legal and ships to all 50 states! Use code STONERMOM15 for 15% off your purchase.
A Final Note
Quitting SSRI’s cold turkey is never recommended and in fact can be quite dangerous, so be sure to consult your trusted physician and make a plan together. It may take a long time to go off medications. Getting my mind and body acclimated to lower doses and eventually zero meds took about a year. The time investment was totally worth it however, since CBD treats my symptoms far more effectively than SSRI’s ever did, and now I’m not adding addictive and habit-forming medications to my already complicated-enough body.
CBD has greatly enhanced my mental health, and there is a mountain of evidence that shows it has huge potential to help those with depression or anxiety, in addition to the large list of chronic conditions that it can treat. Of course, we are all complex and unique, so be sure to do your own research before you start your CBD therapy, and like always, I wish you the very best on your personal cannabis journey.
Making the Switch: CBD Oil and Antidepressants
Information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute as medical advice from a qualified physician. Always consult with your doctor before making any changes to prescribed medications.
Understanding CBD Oil and Antidepressants
CBD oil is gaining popularity as laws continue to increase its access and new uses for these products are discovered. Antidepressants, on the other hand, have been around for decades and have established themselves as first-line treatment options for many mental health conditions. While their statuses differ drastically, some of their indications for the management of anxiety and depression overlap.
What is CBD Oil?
CBD oil is a product made from cannabidiol that has been diluted in some type of oil. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid derived from cannabis plants like marijuana or hemp. CBD oil does not produce the psychoactive side effects seen with the use of marijuana because the CBD has been isolated from the many other cannabinoids in the plant. THC specifically, which is the cannabinoid responsible for the “high” feeling many people describe when using the plant product, is not present in CBD oil products. CBD oil has emerged as a potential treatment option for a variety of conditions, including anxiety, epilepsy, depression, and pain disorders.
What Are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are medications used to treat mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. There are many different classes of antidepressants approved by the FDA. These include SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and other miscellaneous antidepressants. These medications are thought to improve symptoms of depression by increasing certain chemicals in the brain, namely serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine, to improve mood although their exact mechanism in depression is not clear. These medications have been developed and improved over many decades to optimize their effectiveness and reduce their side effects. However, some people still struggle to manage their anxiety and symptoms of depression using antidepressants alone.
Mixing CBD Oil and Antidepressants
With evidence suggesting CBD oil may benefit those who suffer from anxiety or depression, many people wonder if supplementing their antidepressant therapy with CBD oil is a safe and effective option.
CBD Oil and SSRIs
SSRIs are the first-line medications used for the treatment of depression. They are well researched and offer many people relief with fewer side effects than other treatment options. People have reported that the use of CBD oil in combination with their SSRIs resulted in improved symptoms of depression without additional side effects. That being said, this combination may not be for everyone. CBD has the potential to interact with SSRIs, and other antidepressants, resulting in increased amounts of antidepressant in the body and a higher risk of side effects.
The CYP450 Pathway
The CYP450 pathway is a metabolic pathway, located primarily in the liver, that is made up of many types of enzymes. These enzymes help break down or alter substances we have ingested, such as medications, to prepare them to be eliminated from the body. Each enzyme has a unique name. CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 are two examples of enzymes that are frequently responsible for the metabolism of medications in the body. These two enzymes are often responsible for the many reported drug interactions related to the CYP450 pathway.
CBD oil has been found to inhibit the CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 enzymes. This means it has the potential to interact with many medications by reducing their metabolism and increasing the amount of medication circulating in the body. Many antidepressants are metabolized by the CYP2D6 enzyme, so their clearance from the body could be reduced by the use of CBD oil. It is still unclear is how significant this interaction is; it is not completely understood if this interaction is related to the dose of CBD oil ingested or related to the route of ingestion of the product.
What The Research Says
The research for the use of CBD products in the treatment of depression and anxiety is expanding. A small study evaluated the use of CBD in patients with anxiety before a public speaking test. This study found that those who used CBD before their speech experienced less anxiety and discomfort than those who were given a placebo. This suggests CBD oil can benefit people who need help reducing anxiety levels before a particular event.
Much of the current research into the use of CBD in depression has been in animals. However, studies have evaluated the mechanism of CBD in the treatment of depression. CBD is known to act on the endocannabinoid system to reduce pain symptoms. Researchers have also begun to study the effect of antidepressants on this system to reduce symptoms of depression. This research has also discovered the impact of other receptors and areas of the brain that are affected by both antidepressants and CBD. This developing research suggests that CBD’s activity in the brain could improve depression, but more investigation into this indication is needed.
Can CBD Replace Antidepressants?
Instead of adding CBD to an antidepressant regimen, it may be more ideal for you to be able to stop using your antidepressants altogether. If you would like to try CBD oil in place of antidepressants, there are some important things you should consider.
How to Prepare the Switch
Preparation is important before deciding to stop taking antidepressants in favor of CBD oil. First, evaluate your current antidepressant regimen. If you are taking antidepressants, these are best stopped by titrating down the dose before quitting them all-together. If you have multiple antidepressants, talk to your physician about how to slowly decrease and remove these medications; it will be a better transition if you decrease one medication at a time. This process may be slow, but it will reduce withdrawal symptoms and improve your chance for a successful transition to CBD oil.
Dangers of Going Cold Turkey with SSRIs
Stopping any antidepressant “cold turkey” can put you at risk for withdrawal symptoms and worsening symptoms of depression or anxiety. This risk is increased if you have been taking antidepressants for a long time or are taking high doses. This is because your body is used to the effects of the medication; when you rip it away suddenly, your body is left scrambling to recover. Withdrawal symptoms of SSRIs can include sleep disturbances, flu-like symptoms, stomach upset, drowsiness, and mood disturbances. Some people also describe shock-like feelings in their brain for weeks after stopping SSRIs. These risks reinforce the importance of preparation when stopping SSRIs and working closely with your provider to do this safely.
Finding the Right Dosage
Using CBD oil may require some trial and error. You may find better luck with some products over others. Similarly, you may find that the original dose you use needs to be adjusted in order to see an effect. The dose may also need to be adjusted over time as the doses of antidepressant are reduced and your body adjusts to these changes. Finding a provider knowledgeable in the use of CBD products can help you find the right dose and product more efficiently.
Risks of Replacing Antidepressants with CBD Oil
While CBD is a more natural product, it carries certain risks that are not seen with antidepressants. One of the biggest risks with using these products is their current lack of regulation. Because CBD oil is sold online and in stores, there is little to no regulation controlling the quality of the products being marketed and sold. This lack of regulation and standardization makes these products harder to dose for different indications.
Research is improving for CBD oil and other cannabinoid products, but there is less quality evidence for the use of CBD oil in anxiety and depression at this time. This leaves uncertainty about its efficacy and most appropriate uses. With this lack of strong evidence available, it can be hard to find knowledgeable providers who understand CBD and the best way to take advantage of these products.
Finally, stopping antidepressants can be a challenging task. Reducing or stopping antidepressants cause withdrawal symptoms, such as those listed above, which may discourage some people from effectively making this transition. Stopping these medications too early or too quickly can also cause you to experience worsening anxiety or depression symptoms. To be safe, this process must be carefully executed and closely monitored by a physician or other qualified psychiatric care provider.
CBD May Be the Relief You’re Looking For
If you have been struggling with anxiety or depression symptoms despite antidepressant therapy options, CBD oil may be a good option for you. With the help of a knowledgeable provider, you may be able to improve your depression symptoms and potentially reduce or stop the use of your antidepressant medications. If you decide to use CBD oil to improve your depression and anxiety symptoms, develop a well-informed plan to introduce this supplement. You may find that this provides the relief you’ve been searching for.