CBD for Depression

There has been a lot of interest in the potential health benefits of CBD.

Cannabidiol or CBD is one of the more than 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant, commonly known as marijuana.

When most people hear of marijuana, they think of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), another hemp compound that gives one a ‘high’.  CBD, unlike THC, doesn’t have an intoxicating effect on the user.  Most people consume cannabidiol as CBD oil.  The oil is extracted from the hemp or marijuana plant and mixed with hemp seed or coconut oil.

From past research, CBD has numerous health benefits, one of which is in the treatment of depression.  Although there aren’t any CBD depression clinical trials, there are many preclinical trial studies that confirm CBD can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

If you intend to use CBD to help you recover from depression, here is everything you need to know about this wonderful product and how it can help you in your recovery journey.

Where Does Depression Come From?

Depression is a common condition that affects more than 264 million people globally.  It’s a mood disorder that is often characterized by feelings of anger, loss, and sadness.

The cause of depression is often said to be chemical imbalances in the brain.  However, this doesn’t explain the complexity of this disorder.  Although there are brain chemicals that are involved, it’s not as simple as one chemical being too high or too low.  Many chemicals in your body may be affected, leading to this complex disorder.  That is why if two people have similar symptoms of depression, CBD oil depression treatment may work for one patient, and may not work for another.

Further, there has been a lot of research done to understand the biology of depression.  Part of this research has led to the realization that depression is not only affected by the levels of chemicals in one’s brain, but also by the brain nerve cell connections, their growth, and their functioning.

Due to the progress in brain imaging, doctors can now identify the brain parts affected by depression which include:

  •         The thalamus
  •         The hippocampus
  •         The amygdala

Research indicates the hippocampus in depressed people is smaller in size, and its sluggish production of neurons may be responsible for the low moods in people with anxiety.  

If you’re wondering, how will CBD work for my anxiety and depression, researchers have discovered that CBD, just like antidepressants, works to improve depression symptoms by enhancing the growth of hippocampus nerve cells, – a process called neurogenesis.  This process improves the exchange of information between the brain nerve circuits.

The World Health Organization also notes that in addition to biological factors, depression may also be caused by psychological and social aspects.  Some of the other common factors that increase one’s risk of suffering from depression include:

  •         Family history
  •         Medical conditions
  •         Structure of the brain
  •         Childhood trauma
  •         Use of drugs
  •         Chronic pain
  •         Chronic stress
  •         Painful conditions

Signs and Symptoms of Depression

Most people think a state of sadness is the only sign of depression, but many other symptoms can characterize the condition.  For some people, depression affects their moods while in others, it affects the body.  Depression symptoms can also be long-lasting in some patients, while in some, they come and go.

Depression is more common in women than in men.  In the US, it affects 10.4% of women compared to 5.5% of men.

Common depression symptoms among men, women, and children include:

  •         Change in mood including feelings of anger, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness, and sadness
  •         Change in emotional well-being including feeling sad, hopeless, empty, despair and incompetent
  •         Change in behavior such as loss of interest in favorite activities, suicidal thoughts, use of drugs, withdrawing from people. Men may also have a poor sex drive while children may quit school
  •         Poor sleep patterns which may include sleeping too much or having difficulty sleeping
  •         A decline in cognitive abilities such as concentration, speech, thought, and completion of tasks
  •         Poor state of physical wellbeing including aches, fatigue, pains, headache, poor appetite, weight gain or weight loss, and stomach aches

CBD for Depression 

Research indicates that CBD helps fight depression by stimulating neural regeneration in the hippocampus.  Depressed people tend to have a smaller hippocampus, but CBD helps to boost the growth of neurons in this area, ensuring it doesn’t shrink.

In other studies, CBD has been suggested to help with depression symptoms by interacting with serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain producing antidepressant effects.  People who are depressed often have low serotonin levels.  Lack of enough serotonin also results in low moods and anxiety.  Unlike antidepressants that increase serotonin levels, CBD affects how the brain reacts to the already available serotonin in the system producing anti-anxiety effects.

In addition to depression, CBD has been shown to benefit people suffering from:

  •         Social anxiety disorder
  •         Post-traumatic stress disorder
  •         Anxiety induced insomnia
  •         Chronic pain that can lead to depression

What Do Researchers Say

There is limited human research done around CBD and its health benefits.   Many of the studies done on the effect of CBD on depression are animal studies, and very few clinical trials exist.

Thus, it’s crucial for anybody who wants to try CBD as a depression treatment option to talk to their doctor first.

However, more research is underway on the subject, and the below-highlighted studies point to the potential benefits of using CBD Oil for anxiety and depression treatment.

In a 2019 study done in Brazil, 57 male volunteers were given oral doses of CBD or a placebo before a public testing test.  The study aimed at determining the impact different doses of CBD had on human volunteers before a simulated public speaking test (SPST).  The results of the study indicated that a CBD dose of 300-mg significantly reduced anxiety among the volunteers during the SPST.

In another 2018 study, CBD was shown to influence the response of the brain to existing serotonin levels leading to antidepressant effects in mice.

In this 2018 study that was a review of existing literature, the researchers noted that there were numerous CBD studies done in the past on animals indicating that CBD has antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects.

A 2015 study sought to determine the role of CBD in adult neurogenesis.  This study reviewed existing literature evidence and concluded that cannabinoid CBD plays a role in neuronal differentiation and maturation in the hippocampus.  This observation led to the recommendation that CBD could help in the treatment of memory and mood disorders

Another research study  done on epileptic rats indicated that CBD exerts its anti-seizure effects by restoring the hippocampal interneuron functions and by preventing the shrinking of the hippocampus.

Another study sought the effect CBD on chronically stressed mice.  The results showed that cannabidiol exerted its anxiolytic impact by increasing the anandamide levels in the hippocampus, which led to the growth of neurons in this area of the brain.

Antidepressants vs. CBD

Most of the CBD research is ongoing, and most of the evidence on the anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects of CBD is from preclinical trials.  But some patients of depression and anxiety have pointed out that they have used CBD as an effective antidepressant.  

Researchers of a recent US survey found out that most people use CBD to treat depression, insomnia, anxiety, and joint pain.  The study also pointed out that 80% of the study participants noted that the cannabidiol products they were using were very effective.

The most commonly used antidepressants are Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft and Prozac.  There are a few reasons why many depression and anxiety patients prefer to use CBD rather than these antidepressants.

For starters, antidepressants offer little to no relief for some patients.  These drugs can also take as long as six weeks before a patient notices a change in the depression symptoms.  Others depression patients look for an alternative because of the side effects they experience with antidepressants which include:

  •         Mood swings
  •         Insomnia
  •         Lack of sexual interest
  •         Agitation
  •         Loss in appetite

Past studies have shown that CBD, when compared to antidepressants, may have several benefits.

Cannabidiol, unlike antidepressants, has been shown to act fast according to a 2019 study that found CBD to have a rapid antidepressant effect.   Further research suggests that CBD has sustained antidepressant effects in rodents.   Another study found out that CBD was more effective as an antidepressant when it was taken with an SSRI.

Now that you have learned that CBD can help with depression symptoms, you may be wondering if you should ditch your antidepressants for cannabidiol.  

The answer to this question is no.

You shouldn’t replace your antidepressants with CBD without consulting your doctor.  You shouldn’t take your antidepressants with CBD either unless you have agreed with your health care provider.

CBD, when combined with other medications, can change how the medicine affects your body.   An abrupt stop in taking your medication can also result in serious health repercussions.

How to Use CBD

A notable advantage of CBD products is that they can be made naturally without the use of chemicals. CBD products can also be taken in different ways, which is an advantage for those people who have a hard time taking conventional medicine in the form of tablets or capsules.

If you’re wondering how to use CBD for depression, here are some ways you can enjoy your CBD product:

  •         Edibles – CBD infused edibles such as gummies and brownies are very popular. Edibles are a fun way to take your CBD, and if you can’t make your edibles at home, there are varieties available online.
  •         CBD oils– These products are made of oils or tinctures extracted from hemp CBD. They are pretty easy to use as you put a few drops in your mouth and hold the oil beneath your tongue for some time before you swallow it.
  •         Capsules – If you want a product that resembles the traditional medication, then CBD capsules fit the bill perfectly. This product contains CBD oil enclosed in capsules just like medicinal capsules.
  •         Vaping – You can get CBD brands that sell oils cartridges for vaping. You can also buy safe vape pens that you can use to enjoy your CBD product.
  •         Topical options –These are CBD infused lotions and balms that help to relieve aches and pains.

Safety Tips and Possible Side Effects

CBD is relatively safe, although there isn’t clear evidence on its long-term effects.

However, some people may experience a few side effects that may include:

  •         Feeling tired
  •         Dry mouth
  •         Stomach upset
  •         Changes in appetite
  •         Changes in weight

Adverse effects have also been noted when CBD interacts with other medications, especially those that have a grapefruit warning.  If you intend to take CBD, make sure you consult your doctor first if you’re taking any medication.

Another concern is that CBD products are not FDA approved as they are sold as supplements. This is a significant concern for most buyers as there is no way to know if what is on the product label is really what they are buying.

Many online-sold CBD products, as indicated in this study, maybe mislabeled, while others may contain products that aren’t in the packaging.   Another study found that some CBD products have dangerous medications and chemicals in them that can make the already sick patients worse.

Where to buy CBD and How to Choose

The best CBD for depression is one that comes from a reputable manufacturer.  Such manufacturers will be transparent about their extraction method and the ingredients used.

The CBD extraction processes used do matter as they determine the quality and purity of the final product. Some of the recommended extraction methods include the supercritical CO2 extraction, the use of coconut and olive oil, and the full spectrum method of extraction.  These methods ensure that your CBD is extracted naturally without the use of chemicals leading to a pure product.

Other things you should consider before buying your CBD product include:

  •         Buy a product that is tested in a third-party accredited laboratory
  •         Check the product ingredients and ensure they don’t have harmful products such as vegetable glycerin or propylene glycol
  •         Check the part of the plant the CBD is extracted from as a product from hemp seeds has very minimal CBD, but products extracted from leaves, flowers, and stalk, of the marijuana plant, are the best
  •         Check the origin of the plant, marijuana sourced from the USA is likely to be organically grown hemp that is produced under the right standards


If you’re suffering from any of the depression symptoms highlighted in this article, you should visit a mental health professional.  In case you’re interested in using CBD to alleviate depression symptoms, you should consult your healthcare provider first. 

Although many studies show CBD is safe, most of these studies are preclinical trials.  Besides, CBD may interact with other medications you may be taking and harm your health.  So, it’s best to let your doctor know before using any CBD product so that they can advise you on the best way to use it.

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