Mental Health

CBD and Zoloft (sertraline) | CBD and SSRI antidepressants

One of the most common reasons people are taking CBD is for their mental health. CBD may help you alleviate some mental health symptoms associated with depression or anxiety. However, before taking CBD it is worth considering other medications you are on. If you are already taking a specific selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as Zoloft, then you must take care. Ask for advice from your doctor before using CBD oil.

A review by Public Health England found that 7.3 million people received at least one prescription for antidepressants in the year 2018. This is about 17% of the adult population. With over a year of a deadly pandemic and a strict quarantine, experts claim that these numbers have got more worrying and have reached new heights.

It is clear that there is an overlap between the people who take Zoloft or another antidepressant and the people seeking to use CBD oil to treat their depression or other mental health problems. This is due to the fact that evidence continues to grow and further support CBD oil’s ability to deal with some of the commonly occurring symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Considering the above, it is worth investigating whether you should take CBD and Zoloft concurrently; is it safe or does it cause any side effects?

Can you take CBD and Zoloft together?

One of the most extensive reviews on the topic was done in the US, at the University of Connecticut. It focused generally on psychotropic medications and other substances in youth. Interestingly, the review suggests that taking an added substance like CBD oil along with Zoloft or another SSRI increases the likelihood of the person feeling adverse effects, however, few patients reported feeling an interaction between the two substances.

The researchers explain that this could be because modern antidepressants generally produce fewer adverse effects. Or it could be due to the patients not reporting the effects or simply not being aware of them.

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Although this study holds promise, it is important to realize that this study looked at substances of abuse including marijuana. It did not focus on the interaction experienced between CBD oil and antidepressants directly.

In contrast to the above, there is evidence that suggests avoiding combining CBD oil and SSRIs. Some studies suggest that CBD may inhibit enzymes in your liver from breaking down the concentration of antidepressants it receives. CBD could inhibit the enzymes CYP2D6 and CYP34A from functioning and these enzymes play an important role in breaking down Zoloft and other antidepressants in the liver. Overall, this may leave the antidepressants in your system for longer which could end up in you feeling long-lasting adverse effects.

Another study also proposes to avoid mixing Zoloft and CBD together. This study, although it used mice as subjects, found that dosing mice with both CBD and Zoloft led mice to act more anxiously and aggressively.

Nevertheless, there are no human studies that directly try to understand using CBD oil and antidepressants simultaneously. Considering this, we recommend people tread cautiously and ask for professional help if they are curious to use CBD oil with Zoloft.

Can you take CBD with other antidepressants?

Zoloft or sertraline is the most commonly prescribed and ultimately the most used antidepressant in the UK. Zoloft is an SSRI, which is a specific type of antidepressant which functions by sending a message to your brain and body to produce more serotonin, better known as ‘the happy hormone.’

However, there are many other antidepressants medications out there. These include; tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and Serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) to name a few.

As we can see, there are numerous types of antidepressants and with each antidepressant comes different side effects. Nonetheless, the above studies should be considered no matter which antidepressant a person takes. You should be aware that CBD oil can inhibit the effectiveness of your antidepressant, and vice versa, your antidepressants can inhibit the effects of CBD.

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What do CBD oil and grapefruit have in common?

You are probably wondering how this piece fits into this topic. Let us explain. When it comes to antidepressant medication, CBD oil and grapefruit hold some common ground.

We all know the wellness benefits of eating good wholesome fruits like grapefruit. However, grapefruit has a chemical that interacts with some P450 enzymes which are found in the liver and neutralise them. This in turn causes the enzymes to fail to break down the antidepressant molecules, leading to higher levels of antidepressants in your bloodstream.

Similar to the grapefruit, many people boast of the great benefits of CBD, but CBD can also inhibit enzymes in the liver from breaking down antidepressants. This can cause antidepressant to stay in the system for longer. Ultimately, this could lead you to experience longer-lasting negative effects.

What are the side effects of taking CBD with antidepressants?

With little research on the topic, knowledge on the side effects comes primarily from anecdotal evidence.

When it comes to the side effects of Zoloft and other antidepressants, people can report feeling drowsy, dizzy and sometimes nauseous. These are similar adverse effects some people describe after taking CBD. As both cause similar side effects, it is possible that taking the two concurrently could lead one to feel the adverse effects more intensely and/or more frequently.

If you are planning on taking the two together, it is advisable to start off slow. You should take a low dose. This is so you can be careful and feel out what dose is suitable for you and avoid feeling any of these negative effects.

Replacing Zoloft with CBD oil

Positive evidence continues to gather, supporting the use of CBD oil to help treat anxiety and even depression. Although the results are looking positive, CBD is not a replacement for any type of antidepressants.

It is true that CBD oil does have many calming properties. These have been shown to help alleviate some mental anguish and even some physical symptoms associated with depression. A 2018 review of the therapeutic potential of CBD proposes that CBD has anti-anxiety, antipsychotic and neuroprotective properties. It adds that CBD is a ‘promising molecule’ in the future of treating mental health conditions.

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Evidence mounts towards CBD oil as an effective molecule to help alleviate the symptoms of depression Having said that, there still is no direct research claiming CBD oil can replace Zoloft or any other antidepressants.

Additionally, we do not recommend you come off your prescribed antidepressants without at least telling your doctors. This is because our body is very sensitive to SSRI medications.

If you suddenly decide to stop taking Zoloft, there is an increased chance of relapse into a more depressed condition.

Additionally, withdrawal symptoms are common in people who abruptly stop taking their SSRI medication. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Poor sleep and nightmares
  • Migraines/headaches
  • Paraesthesias (an uncomfortable tingling sensation of numbness felt on the skin)

Medical professionals consider antidepressant prescriptions very seriously. So if you feel you want to stop taking Zoloft or you want to replace it with CBD, then the best thing to do is get advice from your doctor. You can make a specific step-by-step plan to reduce your antidepressant medicine and introduce a different treatment, such as CBD.

So once again as it cannot be stressed enough if you want to use CBD as a method of helping you with anxiety or depression, consult your doctor. You can discuss with them, your specific case and come up with a strategy that works best for you. This is to ensure that you avoid relapse or adverse withdrawal symptoms.

To conclude

Overall, if you are on Zoloft or any other type of antidepressant medication, you should be careful about consuming CBD oil alongside them. Also, CBD should not be a replacement for your prescribed treatment. With little proof supporting whether there are adverse effects, it is better to play it safe until there is more research done.

We recommend you consult your doctor to understand how CBD can help you with anxiety or depression. You and your doctor can formulate a strategy specific to you. A tailored plan could allow the use of CBD and Zoloft concurrently without the risk of any negative effects.

Darren Clarke

Darren can skim a stone a solid 50 metres and write top-quality content. He has a Masters in the Psychology of Behaviour Change where he has acquired rigorous research skills. Darren has a passion in understanding behaviour and encouraging people to act healthier and more sustainably. He has worked across the globe as a teacher. And he has been active in the school communities aiming to encourage the students to be their best selves.

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