Feeling Moody: The Science of Emotions and How CBD Gets Involved
Reading time – 17 minutes
We’ve all had one of those days- you wake up grouchy, unapproachable, and all you want to do is get back in bed. Or, alternatively, you wake up miserable, anxious for the day ahead, not sure why you’re feeling these feelings; or how to deal with them.
Especially in the age of the COVID-19 Pandemic, emotions run high with the increased risks of simply existing now. Everyone is adjusting to a ‘new normal’ in the face of great change, both social and political.
Keeping an eye on mood
The general mood in Britain has never been easier to ascertain, with organisations such as YouGov tracking the mood of the general population for over a year now. In many ways, mood is easy to predict: the amount of people saying they felt happy rose over the week of Christmas by over 20%, lasting all the way through to the New Year.
During mid-March and the height of the lockdown, general public happiness was halved, dipping from 50% to 25%. The percentage of people ‘scared’ almost tripled.
Yet, not everything is what you’d expect: stress levels only maintained their pandemic-height for three weeks, before dipping back to normal (in spite of lockdown, and the pandemic, still raging on). The figures for loneliness only shifted upwards by 2%, despite Britons being very physically cut off from each other in a way they weren’t before.
So, what on Earth are we meant to take from this?
Why am I moody?
It’s no surprise to anyone that mood is important. But what may surprise you is just how important your mindset can be- it affects the way you see the world. When we’re grumpy, we are likely to perceive others as hostile or morose. When we’re happy, we notice more happiness in others. Our perception of others is heavily dependent on something out of their control: our own mood.
This begs the question: what causes our moods? How can we help to control our mood and see the world in as positive a light as possible? There are two main things to keep an eye on, if you want your mood to stay stable: sleep and diet.
Sleep (and specifically, sleep deprivation) is a leading cause of low mood in today’s world. We all have that one friend who is constantly bragging about being able to cope on five or six hours of sleep; but not everyone knows that a poor sleep schedule can possibly lead to conditions such as depression and anxiety. One third of people deal with issues related to poor sleep, and everyone has dealt with the consequences of a bad night before: the short temper, lack of focus, and overall awful feeling that overcomes us after a night of tossing and turning.
Another important mood-controlling factor in our lives is diet. A common excuse among workaholics is ‘I’m busy’ or ‘I forgot to eat’; shortly before they become cranky, stressed out, and generally unpleasant, often without meaning to be. Of course, we can’t help having a busy life in this day and age, but it’s important to eat regularly. Without a steady supply of nutrients (fruit and vegetables) and slow-release energy (such as pasta and whole-grain products) into the body, the blood sugar levels in our body drop, stimulating the release of stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which have been linked to anxiety. As a result, we may feel tired, depressed, or irritable. Not only this, but you may also suffer from a low mood and aggression as a result of eating the wrong foods, such as trans fats.
Diet isn’t just what you eat: what do you drink throughout the day? A lot of us rely on sugar-filled juices (which have been linked to depression in several studies) and caffeine. The symptoms of drinking caffeine, such as restlessness, increased heartbeat, and nervousness, can be compared with and are thought to worsen anxiety where it already exists within people.
Of course, being moody isn’t always a bad thing. Indeed, the world would be a boring place if we were all devoid of emotion! Indeed, you can get eight hours of sleep a night and eat a well-balanced diet, but you’re still going to have bad days. Bad days are normal and a part of life; but for a significant portion of the population, they are far more common than they should be: those with anxiety and depressive disorders.
Anxiety and Depression: Two Sides of the Emotional Coin
What causes anxiety?
While not everyone has anxiety or a diagnosable anxiety disorder, everyone has felt anxious before. Whether it was during exam week in school, before your first job interview, or even on your wedding day; everyone knows the feeling of shaking hands and (sometimes unpleasant) butterflies in our stomach. But what is anxiety, really?
In terms of symptoms, anxiety is a cyclone of the mental and physical: feelings of fear, dread, and restlessness mix with shaking hands, sweaty palms, insomnia, heart palpitations, and a whole host of other symptoms that can make a person feel as if they are on the edge of death.
To make matters worse, the direct cause of anxiety is not always known, even to the person experiencing it. At its base level, anxiety is a fear response, a rush of adrenaline throughout the body that gets our hearts pumping and our brain in ‘flight or flight’ mode. In prehistoric times, when humanity lived as hunter-gatherers (and could be hunted themselves), anxiety proved to be useful in terms of long-term survival. Back then, it drove us to run away if a predator were chasing us. The modern equivalent might be feeling anxious about not being able to pay your bills; but running away won’t fix that issue- it will make things infinitely worse.
Anxiety has also been linked to dysfunction and overactivity in several areas of the brain associated with emotions and behaviour; namely, the amygdala (responsible for how and when you feel certain emotions, such as fear), prefrontal cortex (responsible for what you give attention, as well as helping you set and achieve goals) and the hippocampus (responsible for learning and memory). It makes sense that, when all these facets of our biology combine, with fear as a driving force, anxiety is only a short step away. Of course, there is more to anxiety than simply the parts of the brain that are involved; for example, it is also believed to be an imbalance of mood-regulating brain chemicals such as serotonin and noradrenaline.
Serotonin is responsible for many bodily functions, with low levels causing depression and high levels potentially causing anxiety. Additionally, serotonin controls two facets of the body that are commonly prone to dysfunction in the throes of anxiety: sleep and nausea. When you feel nauseous, this is typically due to an increase of serotonin in the blood (stimulating the part of the brain which controls nausea) and the gut (speeding up the digestion process, resulting in what may feel like an upset stomach).
Likewise, noradrenaline has a great deal of important functions throughout the body, particularly within the cardiovascular system. It works with chemicals such as adrenaline, which slows down the body’s metabolic processes and interferes with homeostasis (the balance of the body) when we experience anxiety. Both noradrenaline and adrenaline act to stimulate the rate and force of the heartbeat (resulting in palpitations), increasing blood pressure, and producing vasodilation (widening of the blood cells). The effect is felt all over the body, particularly where adrenoreceptors (which receive and translate the chemical messages conveyed by noradrenaline and adrenaline) are located: cardiovascular cells, in the kidneys, and in the nervous system.
Additionally, genetics can play a part in whether or not you experience anxiety, and to what degree. If you have a close genetic relative living with a serious condition such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), you yourself are five timesmore likely to have the same condition.
Of course, anxiety isn’t all nature; a lot of nurture is at play, too. Having a history of painful, stressful, or traumatic experiences; living for a long time with a painful medical condition; or a history of substance abuse can all potentially lead to the development of anxiety, and even full-blown anxiety disorders such as Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), phobias, panic disorders, Obsessive-compulsive disorder, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (though the latter two are no longer officially recognised as anxiety disorders by the DSM-5)
60-90% of patients with anxiety have concurrent mental health conditions (such as depression), giving anxiety the potential to have a severely debilitating effect on quality of life, if not dealt with properly. In 2014, it was estimated that almost 10% of the population lives with both depression and anxiety.
What causes depression?
On the flipside of the emotional coin, you have depression. Just as how everyone feels anxious from time to time without having anxiety, everyone feels sad now and again; not everyone will experience depression.
What is depression? Depression manifests in a variety of ways, mental and physical. While yes, it is sadness at its core, depression also presents with feeling hopeless, low self-esteem, irritability, feelings of guilt, and simply not getting any happiness out of life.
Physically, depression might cause one to lack energy, suffer from unexplained pains and aches, and suffer from insomnia (or the opposite- sleeping too much).
As a result of the psychological and physical symptoms of depression, people tend to withdraw from social events: you might meet your friends every Saturday for coffee, but when you’re depressed you have that low energy, low self-esteem, and irritability; causing you to tell yourself things like ‘I’m better off if I don’t go, I’m better off alone’, etc. The effects are also felt at home: many with depression cease to enjoy the hobbies and interests that once endlessly brightened their lives.
So, that’s the how- now for the what: what causes depression? As with anxiety disorders, there are no clear causes that all experts agree upon, but it is probably a mixture of what has happened to us in the past, our experiences, and our genetics and biology.
Many of the same things that can cause anxiety in adults can also lead to depression: bad childhood experiences such as abuse, loss, trauma, neglect, or instability, to name a few; and of course depression can also manifest in adulthood, usually after a divorce/breakup, losing your job, abuse, or loss of a loved one.
Poor health at any stage of life is hard to deal with, and so it should come as little surprise that those with serious conditions are more likely to also suffer from depression. Statistics from the CDC found that over 40% of people with cancer, 27% of people with diabetes, and over 50% of people with Parkinson's Disease also suffer from depression. It doesn’t help that many of these conditions can also cause the sleep problems and low blood sugar associated with depression.
Within the body, depression’s effects run rampant: low appetite can lead to poor nutrition (which we discussed earlier as a leading cause of low mood), or an increased appetite can lead to stress eating and unhealthy weight gain, which in turn places one at higher risk of heart disease and diabetes. Nutrition is certainly a key part in the treatment of depression, with nutritionally-focused studies occurring and placing an emphasis on the consumption of folic acid and vitamin B12.
Low levels of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline are commonly associated with depression. Correlations have been found between low serotonin levels and an increased risk of suicide. However, it is difficult to talk about depression’s impact on the brain, as experts are currently unsure of which comes first: the low levels of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers such as dopamine and serotonin which send signals throughout the body) or the depression.
Where does CBD come in?
By now you’re probably thinking, that all makes sense, but where does CBD come in?That’s a good question. CBD (cannabidiol) is a well-known substance derived from the cannabis plant. Throughout history, the probable effects of CBD have had it hailed as a health supplement all over the world. However it was not until recently CBD itself was able to be isolated from the cannabis plant. This is important, because the many other compounds in the cannabis plant (such as THC, the compound that gets you ‘high’) do not have the same effects those who use CBD in modern times seek.
Rather than giving you a ‘high’, CBD can potentially lift your mood, and has been anecdotally associated with the ability to aid sleep, ease pain, and much more; particularly when used as a supplement to an already healthy lifestyle. How does it do this? Through a recently-discovered system within our bodies called the Endocannabinoid System (ECS, for short).
The ECS is located throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems within the body. The central nervous system is responsible for awareness, sensations, thoughts, and memory, among other things; while the peripheral nervous system communicates messages from the central nervous system throughout the rest of the body. Essentially, the ECS is everywhere; a composition of receptors and neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that maintain homeostasis (balance) within the body. Once ingested, CBD interacts with the receptors throughout the ECS, including in the parts of the brain associated with mood and memory, which opens the doors towards intriguing speculation: what might CBD be capable of? What are its possible benefits? Researchers have been studying the effects of CBD and cannabis in general when it comes to mood for a long time now, and they’ve found some interesting correlations.
The Possible Emotional Benefits of Using CBD Oil
CBD Oil & Depression
While much research has been done into CBD and anxiety, an equally important area of study is the potential effects of CBD on depression. In the body, CBD stimulates the transmission of endocannabinoids (the natural cannabinoids produced by the body and found throughout the ECS). One 2018 paper compared the way cannabinoids may react with endocannabinoid receptors to antidepressants, though of course CBD is not a medicine and should not be used as a replacement for mainstream pharmaceuticals, especially given the current lack of data.
The ECS is thought to bring homeostasis not just to our body, but to our emotions, as well. Cannabinoids (such as CBD), therefore, almost certainly have a role to play when it comes to balancing our mood through stimulating the ECS. One paper, in its conclusion, stated that “Cannabis-based compounds could exert antidepressant effects through complex influences on different behavioural responses, such as those associated with reward, stress and inflammation, also depending on the individual psychosocial context.” However, the study also concluded that further human trials are needed, with larger sample sizes and repeat testing, if we are to uncover what variables are involved when it comes to using CBD as a supplement against depression.
CBD Oil & Anxiety
One 2019 case study set out to explore if CBD had any possible effect on sleep and anxiety within a sample of 72 patients at a Colorado mental health clinic. The results appear promising: 72% of patients experienced a reduction in anxiety after use of CBD in the first month alone. 94% of patients in another study of 131 pain sufferers reported an increase in quality of life after the use of CBD. Much is still a mystery concerning CBD’s possible applications as a mood-lifting supplement, however some studies involving mice cite the interaction of CBD at 5-HT1A receptors (a sub-type of serotonin receptor located throughout the body in the brain, spleen, and part of the kidney) as a key force behind CBD’s possible anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) and antidepressant-like abilities.
Further studies are mandatory in order to properly understand how CBD may affect our emotions, and the potential implications of such effects, as relatively few human-based studies exist; and those that do are somewhat limited by their small sample sizes. Current findings are almost exclusively limited to examining CBD against Social Anxiety Disorder, as opposed to other anxiety-related conditions.
However, in several medical reviews, both animal and human, CBD has been purported to have possible anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), panicolytic (anti-panic), and anti-compulsive properties (possibly useful when it comes to decreasing the potency of anxiety-related disorders such as OCD). CBD has also been shown to stimulate the CB1 receptors in the ECS (found around the emotional and memory centres of the brain). Unlike other substances which can activate CB1 receptors, CBD is not known to produce anxiogenic effects at higher doses, meaning it is very unlikely for CBD to produce an anxious effect within the body.
How CBD oil may lift your mood
It seems there are as many ways to take CBD as there are potential benefits to doing so! Each way has its own pros and cons, and there is no ‘best way’ to take CBD; you have to decide what is right for you. That being said, here are some of the most accessible ways to include CBD in your daily life:
CBD oil is the most well-known method. It’s simple, easy-to-use, and easy to find. There are a variety of ways you can incorporate CBD oil into your daily life, too: you can simply drop some onto your tongue, add it to your morning coffee or evening meal, or even rub it directly into your skin. It's versatile, easy to carry around with you, and easy to keep track of your dosage.
Edibles (including drinks) are another classic when it comes to CBD consumption. From gummies to coffee, you’re sure to find something you enjoy taking, and subsequently find yourself enjoying the supplementary benefits of CBD oil infusion. This is an excellent option for those who dislike the taste of CBD oil, however the CBD content of edible products is typically much lower when compared to other methods. Moreover, the process of digestion means that edibles take longer to have any effect, and the breakdown of CBD throughout this process means you may not absorb the full CBD content of the edible, either.
Topicals may be useful for those with skin conditions, acne, or aiming for targeted pain relief on certain muscles or injuries. Topical CBD products come in a variety of forms, too; mainly creams, balms, moisturisers, etc.
Vape oil is fast becoming a popular way to find your CBD fix. Vaping is reportedly the fastest-acting way to ingest CBD, with the highest bioavailability (percentage of CBD absorbed into the bloodstream). As with edibles, vape oils come in a multitude of different flavours for those who dislike the taste of CBD oil. Like smoking, vaping has been associated with stress relief and in particular has been hailed as helpful when it comes to quitting nicotine and cigarettes, and is also thought to be less harmful than smoking.
About our CBD Oil
If CBD vape oil is what you’re after, then welcome to Amphora. We can’t wait to help you uplift your mood, leave gloomy days behind, and find wellness with the help of CBD. We have a variety of CBD vape oils, with every product containing 100% organically-grown hemp-based CBD; completely free of THC, nicotine, and pesticides. The entirety of our catalogue is third-party lab-tested for content and quality, ensuring you will have your best CBD vape experience with every inhale. But don’t take our word for it- we print QR codes and batch identification numbers on all our CBD products, to allow you to easily check on the third-party lab-tested status of your chosen product.
Our PEACE CBD vape pen cartridge is just the thing if you’re trying to find, well, peace. This THC-free, vegan-friendly oil consists of 20% CBD distillate, diluted with plant-sourced terpenes to provide all the benefits of the entourage effect. Complete with a sweet, woody flavour, a pinch of green peppercorn, and finished off with a hint of grapefruit, this oil is sure to take the edge off of any anxious, stressful day.
If a good night’s sleep is what you need, our ZZZ CBD vape pen cartridge is just the thing for you. With subtle hints of lemon and juniper berries, this vape oil is the ultimate addition to your nighttime routine; whether it’s to accompany or replace your nightly cup of tea, you’re sure to have sweet dreams after trying this vegan-friendly CBD supplement.
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD Oil.
Contributor | Angus Taylor CEO
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.