Does CBD help depression?

Does CBD help depression?

According to World Health Organization, depression is a mental health disorder affecting 264 million people worldwide, with most cases being diagnosed in adults. These numbers only look to increase as time goes on.

While there are many treatment options for major depression, finding depression treatments that work consistently for patients can be challenging. 

CBD is a naturally occurring compound that is attracting scientific researchers’ attention for its potential ability to influence the brain. We are in the early stages of research on how effective CBD might be for the treatment of depression. At this point, there is no conclusive evidence on the ability of CBD to treat depression, anxiety, or pain.

depressed man staring out window

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. It has recently been getting more press due to the growing CBD industry and relaxed legislation. This results in a spike in the CBD oil market, and there are now a variety of products claiming CBD in them: drinks, gummies, and supplements

It appears that CBD may affect serotonin’s activity in the brain. However, more research is being done to see if it helps depression and pain management. 

 How Can It Work?

Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids, neurotransmitters that bind to cannabinoid receptors in your nervous system. This complex network of neurotransmitters and receptors is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS comprises cannabinoid receptors that are spread throughout the central nervous system (brain and nerves) and peripheral nervous system (organs and tissue). The ECS is responsible for maintaining homeostasis, or balance, in your body by regulating things like sleep, appetite, mood, and memory.

CBD interacts directly with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in your body. It was because of THC that scientists found the body's endocannabinoid system. CBD interacts with multiple cellular targets related to the ECS, perhaps to promote a better balance of chemicals in the brain. 

CBD is so effective in its integration of the endocannabinoid system that it influences the entire body, key in its potential role in managing pain and depressive disorders. 

What The Research Says

Serotonin receptors are protein molecules found on the surface of cells in various parts of your body. Serotonin attaches to these receptors and sends signals between cells to perform various functions. There are several different serotonin receptors, each with its role to play: some regulate your mood, some control your bowel movements or appetite, and others give you a sense of well-being.

Serotonin is responsible for your body's ability to regulate mood, appetite, sleep, digestion, and learning, and it's essential to keeping depression at bay. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being and happiness. It is widely thought that a healthy level of serotonin in your brain is important for feeling emotionally well.

Research suggests that CBD modulates serotonergic receptors. While the full methodology of CBD in the brain is still being discovered, it appears that it may have the potential use as a mood regulator.

image of serotonin molecule

Sustained Antidepressant-Like Effects

A recent animal model study aimed to assess the long-term antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol (CBD). The study clarifies how CBD could affect neuroplasticity and neurogenesis, implicated in depression. To evaluate the potential antidepressant-like effects of CBD, researchers assessed its behavioral effects in mice exposed to chronic unpredictable stress (CUS) for 21 days.

They found that CBD caused sustained antidepressant-like effects over 14 days of treatment, as measured by two different behavioral paradigms: a forced swim test (FST) and a tail suspension test (TST). The ability of CBD to reduce immobility time was blocked by AM251, a selective CB1 receptor antagonist. In addition, CBD normalized the decreased hippocampal levels of BDNF induced by CUS in mice during repeated administration.

This evidence indicates that this cannabinoid has a sustained antidepressant effect related to its influence on hippocampal neurogenesis and plasticity.

Comparing CBD to Antidepressant Medications

Gaining tools for managing mental health are always key. Antidepressant medications and CBD are two popular options among those looking to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

How do they compare? 

Antidepressants have a long history of scientific research and clinical prescription use to back up your doctor’s choice to use them. CBD has a lot of fascinating research studies in progress but does not yet have any conclusive evidence that it can be used to treat depression. 

Using CBD For Anxiety

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), Anxiety disorders impact about 18% of American adults each year. They are the most common mental health disorder concern, affecting nearly 40 million people over 18. Anxiety disorders often go unnoticed because of non-physical symptoms and can be difficult to diagnose.

With so many people struggling with anxiety disorders it's no surprise that there are so many different ways to try to treat it. Some people use anxiety medications, some go to psychotherapy, and others use lifestyle changes like exercise or diet. But recently, more and more people are turning to CBD oil for their anxiety symptoms.

Studies suggest that CBD may show potential in the treatment of anxiety in those suffering from social phobias, general anxiety disorder (GAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It has also shown promise in easing other forms of anxiety, like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and panic disorder (PD). These are early stage studies and currently, CBD is not a prescribed option for any condition.

Many people report that CBD helps them feel calmer and more focused. CBD is used by many people who enjoy the calming routine of taking the oil and holding it under their tongues to encourage absorption. 

Side Effects of CBD Oil

CBD comes with a few side effects. Here are the top 4 side effects of CBD oil.

Dry Mouth

CBD oil can make your mouth feel dry. Research has shown that CBD can decrease the production of saliva. This often happens because the glands in your mouth that produce saliva are temporarily inhibited by CBD oil, which means less saliva production. For some, this can result in dry mouth or thirst. However, this side effect is relatively rare and isn't likely to occur unless you take extremely high doses of CBD oil.

Reduced Blood Pressure

THC is full-spectrum CBD oil can cause a slight drop in blood pressure immediately after using it, which can cause lightheadedness or dizziness, especially if you stand up quickly after using it. It's best to move slowly and take breaks when you're standing up from sitting or laying down positions if you are taking CBD oil for this reason.


Some CBD oils have a sedative-like effect and will induce sleepiness, especially if they have higher amounts of THC within them. If you're taking CBD oil to help you sleep better at night, this won't be an issue for you but if you're taking it during the day, make sure that you don't operate any heavy machinery until the effects wear off!


 CBD oil may cause diarrhea or loose stools in some people, particularly at higher doses. This is a result of the way cannabinoids interact with receptors in your intestines, resulting in digestive issues.

How To Use CBD

There are many different CBD products available on the market today!

CBD comes in many forms: tinctures, capsules, edibles, and topical creams. The most common form of CBD is an oil tincture; these are sold in dropper bottles and can be dropped under the tongue for faster absorption into the bloodstream or added to food or drinks for slower absorption.

Capsules and edibles have specific dosages built-in—be sure to check labels for information about the amount of CBD in each capsule or edible. Topicals can be rubbed into the skin near specific areas like joints or muscles.


Before we get into dosing any CBD products, it's important to note that everyone's body is different. There's no one-size-fits-all approach. The amount of CBD that works for someone else may not work for you (and vice versa). We recommend starting with the smallest dose of CBD products possible and working your way up.

It depends on what kind of CBD product you're using, but usually, you can start by dosing twice a day. If that seems excessive, try taking a single dose daily for a couple of weeks, then once every day for weeks. You can always increase your dose to twice a day if the lower dose isn't working.

If you're using topical CBD products, apply them up to four times a day. This increases the chance of your skin absorbing them properly. When applying topicals like lotions or balms, try using long strokes from your fingers or knuckles in one direction to cover your skin completely.

Is CBD Legal?

Unlike other forms of ingestible cannabis, like resin, THC and marijuana plants, CBD is legal throughout the United States. This alone makes it a popular chemical compound for both consumers and businesses looking to gain some added benefits by using cannabidiol.



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