We still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding mental health and treating it. Yes, the days of so-called treatments such as lobotomies and isolation are behind us. However, there is still much to learn about mental health, and many steps need to be taken to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, especially when it comes to schizophrenia. Currently, the best and safest treatment for schizophrenia is medication, but continuing studies show that there is a chance that people with schizophrenia could benefit from using CBD. But how realistic is it to say CBD for Schizophrenia can help? And what proof is there to back this claim?
Here we discuss everything you need to know about the condition, including causes, symptoms and treatments, and what studies show regarding using CBD for schizophrenia. Please keep in mind that we are not suggesting using CBD as a replacement for medication prescribed by your doctor. Schizophrenia is a severe condition, and anyone that has it needs to get the proper medical attention.
Table of Contents
What is schizophrenia?
How the media portray schizophrenia and the people that have it is very damaging and is what gives most people the idea that people with this condition are dangerous and should be avoided. However, this is not the case. People with the illness have a skewed view of reality. It can be difficult for them to function normally as the condition can include abnormal thoughts and behaviours, delusions and hallucinations.
Schizophrenia is a serious medical condition that requires lifelong treatment. Getting diagnosed early on and getting the proper treatment as soon as possible can significantly improve the lives of those suffering from it and help stop any further complications from occurring.
What are the causes of schizophrenia?
It is still widely unknown what causes schizophrenia, but researchers believe it is a combination of things such as:
- Brain chemistry: According to neuroimaging research, brain chemicals, such as dopamine and glutamate neurotransmitters, may play a role in schizophrenia. However, the extent of this is unknown.
- Genetics: If there is schizophrenia in your family, the chances are high that you may have it too.
Risk factors include:
- Taking mind-altering drugs
- Exposure to toxins such as lead
- Family environment
- Life-Changing Events or trauma
- Viral infections
- Pregnancy/congenital disabilities
What are the symptoms of schizophrenia?
In men, symptoms of schizophrenia usually appear in their late teens to early twenties, whereas in women, it tends to appear in the mid to late twenties. When it comes to schizophrenia, there is a range of symptoms to look out for. While these symptoms may vary, they usually include some of the following:
- Delusions: Most people with schizophrenia have delusions. These can include thinking they are under attack from others, that they have exceptional abilities, or that something terrible is about to happen. Most of these delusions are steeped in paranoia.
- Hallucinations: seeing and or hearing things that don’t exist, most commonly hearing voices that aren’t there.
- Inability to function normally: This is present in several ways, such as a lack of hygiene, losing interest in enjoyable activities, and showing antisocial behaviour.
- Impaired speech and thinking: Inability to communicate effectively and string random words together that have no meaning.
- Abnormal motor behaviour: People with schizophrenia can behave unpredictably, getting agitated, ignoring instructions or acting childlike for no reason.
These symptoms may get better or worsen over time. However, some are lifelong.
Dangers of leaving schizophrenia untreated
Although it is such a serious condition, over half of the people that are diagnosed with schizophrenia go untreated, and it is believed that even more go undiagnosed. The stigma surrounding the condition is the cause of this. No one wants to be labelled a schizophrenic or “schizo”. It is extremely dangerous to leave schizophrenia untreated. If left untreated, it can result in complications such as:
- Aggressive behaviour (not common)
- Anxiety disorders
- Financial problems
- Health problems
- Inability to work or attend school
- Social isolation
- Substance abuse
Can you prevent schizophrenia?
Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent schizophrenia. However, seeking help and following a treatment plan goes a long way to preventing symptoms from getting worse or relapses occurring. In addition, with medical science constantly improving, there is hope that scientists may someday discover ways to prevent it.
Treatment for schizophrenia
Now that we’ve discussed the dangers of leaving schizophrenia untreated, let's dive into how the condition gets treated.
As there is no cure, treating schizophrenia is a lifelong process. Medication and therapy are the most effective treatments, but in some cases, hospitalisation is necessary.
Sometimes treating schizophrenia requires a team of people, namely a psychiatrist, psychologist, and social worker. Medication, usually antipsychotic, forms the foundation of treating schizophrenia. Psychiatrists may try various doses and combinations to find what works for an individual patient to manage the signs and symptoms of the condition. Other medications are sometimes used with antipsychotics, such as antianxiety or anti-depressants. The effects of the drug are not immediate, and it may take a few weeks for the user to feel a difference.
Besides medication, therapy also plays an essential part in treating schizophrenia. Therapy may include:
- Seeing a psychologist individually
- Family therapy
- Vocational rehabilitation and support
- Social skills conditioning
While schizophrenia is a dire diagnosis, patients can manage their condition and live fairly normal lives with the proper medication, support, and therapy.
CBD for Schizophrenia – does CBD oil help with schizophrenia?
CBD is used for many health conditions such as pain, anxiety and inflammation and many people swear by the benefits of the cannabinoid. However, can CBD do anything for a condition as serious as schizophrenia? Some believe it can.
CBD has many properties similar to the antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia. A recent study found that CBD was associated with improving psychotic symptoms, while another found that CBD may be helpful when it comes to cognition. Forty-two participants saw improved cognition when administered CBD or amisulpride, a popular antipsychotic medication, but CBD had fewer side effects. However, it is essential to note that this study was small, and most participants were male. Many more comprehensive studies are needed before we can confirm that CBD can do anything for the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Is it safe to use CBD for schizophrenia?
Before using CBD, you have to speak to a healthcare professional first. While CBD is safe, there are cases where it can be detrimental to your health, especially if you are on certain medications or have certain conditions that it may affect.
Some medications can interact with CBD and slow down the rate at which your body breaks down and absorbs medication, leading to unnecessary complications. These medications include:
- Blood thinners
- Heart medication
- Thyroid medication
- Anti-epileptic medication
You can find a comprehensive list of the medications CBD can interact with here.
The effect of CBD and THC on schizophrenia
Worryingly, some research suggests that THC could be harmful to people with schizophrenia, as it is a psychoactive compound and can therefore worsen psychosis.
A review done in 2021 of 124 studies showed evidence that frequent use of THC containing products may result in people experiencing adverse effects such as psychosis, even if they don’t have any mental health conditions. It also showed that people with schizophrenia have an increased risk.
People with the condition should avoid CBD oil that contains THC. Instead, go for a broad spectrum or isolate product that contains zero THC if you’re going to be using CBD.
While CBD rarely has any side effects, it is crucial to remember that it is still possible to experience them, although it is relatively unlikely. Possible side effects include:
- Weight fluctuations
At the end of the day, it is better to be safe than sorry. Always speak to your doctor before using anything new to ensure it is safe for you to do so and that it won’t interact with any medication you may be on.
It is also important to only use products that list all of their ingredients so that you avoid any potential pitfalls. However, many products on the market omit or lie about the ingredients they contain.
How to choose CBD for schizophrenia
When speaking to your doctor about using CBD in conjunction with prescribed schizophrenic medications, ask if there are any particular CBD brands or products that they recommend. Always ensure you choose a CBD product that does third-party lab testing and has Certificates of Analysis (COAs) to ensure you are getting safe, reputable products that are transparent with what they contain. Avoid brands that refuse to make lab results available to the public. They clearly have something to hide.
We are unable to advise on how much CBD to use for schizophrenia, and it is dangerous to guess.
If you're considering using CBD to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, you should first consult your doctor. Self-medicating for schizophrenia is exceedingly dangerous.
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People with schizophrenia should never self-medicate or come up with their own treatments. As mentioned above, it is an extremely serious condition, and you need to consult medical experts if you have, or believe you have, the condition. CBD oil is not a replacement for schizophrenia medication.
Work with a doctor or psychiatrist who has experience with CBD before using any CBD product. CBD is not a cure for schizophrenia. Instead, it may benefit some symptoms associated with schizophrenia. However, clinical trials are ongoing.
The FDA does not regulate CBD products, which means that some CBD oils may not contain all the ingredients that they claim to, or even that they have other harmless ingredients that they don't mention.
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Results from studies done on the effects of CBD on schizophrenia are promising and show that there may be potential for using CBD to help with the symptoms of the condition. However, CBD is not a cure.
We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to seek medical attention for schizophrenia and to follow your doctor's orders. Furthermore, always speak to your doctor before starting something new, especially something that is still being studied, such as CBD.
If you suspect someone may be suffering from schizophrenia, talk to them. While you can't force them to seek professional help, you can still provide help and support.
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