does cbd or thc help with depressionDecember 15, 2021
CBD products are not subject to regulation because they are marketed as supplements, which means that you don’t know if you are really getting what is described on the label. Because these products are not regulated, you have no way of knowing for sure what you are getting in terms of purity, safety, and dosage.
One study published in 2018 suggested that cannabidiol does not increase serotonin levels; rather, it appears to work by influencing how the brain responds to serotonin that is already there.
Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.
Another study found that CBD had a "clear anti-stress effect," which might play a role in reducing stress levels that contribute to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Most of the available research suggests that CBD is generally well-tolerated and produces few side effects. However, this does not mean that people may not experience any unwanted side effects, which may include:
CBD can also be used topically in creams, salves, lotions, and balms, although it is likely to only produce localized effects in this form. E-liquids that are inhaled via vaping are also available, though vaping comes with its own risks.
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.
So how does CBD compare to traditional antidepressants? True comparisons of the effects are not yet possible simply because there is not enough research on CBD’s effects.
It is also important to note that CBD is available in isolate (only CBD), broad-spectrum (contains other cannabinoids but not THC), and full-spectrum (contains other cannabinoids, including THC).
Cannabidiol is available in several different forms, although only those that are ingested are likely to produce any antidepressant-like effects or other mental health benefits. It may be taken orally as an oil, spray, or capsule. CBD may also be added to edible products including beverages, candies, or chewable gummies.
Cannabis contains more than 80 compounds, known as cannabinoids. The main cannabinoid that most people are more familiar with is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive substance that produces the "high" characteristic of marijuana.
One of the biggest concerns that consumers face when purchasing CBD products is the lack of FDA regulation.
Other studies suggest that CBD may help alleviate symptoms of depression by interacting with serotonin receptors in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in a range of functions in the body including the regulation of mood. It may help contribute to feelings of happiness and well-being. It is also often implicated in the onset of depression and many types of antidepressant drugs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
However, one animal study suggests that CBD might have some possible benefits by comparison:
CBD, on the other hand, is purported to have a wide range of health benefits without these psychoactive effects. Some research suggests that CBD has antidepressant-like effects, which means it may hold promise in alleviating symptoms of depression.
How It’s Taken.
Despite claims about CBD's purported mental health benefits, it is important to understand that the research on its use is still limited. There have been studies done, but many of these have limitations and further research is needed in order to fully understand CBD's therapeutic potential.
Research suggests that CBD has antidepressant effects, although it is important to note that many of these are animal studies.
If you are interested in using CBD to alleviate symptoms of depression in conjunction with other treatments, always talk to your doctor first about how to use it and about any possible medication interactions.
Interest in the potential mental health uses of cannabidiol (CBD) has grown tremendously in recent years, including the use of CBD for depression. CBD is a chemical compound found in the Cannabis sativa plant, also known as marijuana or hemp.
If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, it is important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. Depression may worsen over time if left untreated, but there are effective treatments available including psychotherapy and medications.
According to the World Health Organization, the available evidence suggests that CBD is relatively safe. However, the long-term effects are not entirely clear.
CBD holds promise, but that does not mean that you should turn to cannabidiol products over traditional treatments for depression.
The bottom line when it comes to CBD's potential as a treatment for depression is that more research is needed. Most of the evidence supporting CBD's antidepressant effects comes from animal studies or small trials, and one of the largest reviews of the research found that the available evidence is not strong enough to recommend CBD as a treatment for depression.
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.
CBD and cannabis-related curriculum is not (yet) taught in medical schools, so it can be a challenge to find a doctor who’s knowledgeable about the landscape. Most physicians don’t know much about the science behind medical cannabis and how to integrate it within a patient’s treatment plan.
While there’s a solid amount of scientific research that shows CBD can be effective for anxiety in animals, as well as anecdotal evidence and case reports that show it may be beneficial for alleviating anxiety in humans, there is less data on the effectiveness of CBD for depression, though there have been some promising animal studies. For example, a 2018 study on rats published in NeuroscienceNews showed that just a single dose of CBD helped to reduce symptoms of depression for up to one week. Researchers believe CBD helps repair neural circuitry in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which get damaged as a result of depression.
Dry-herb Vaporizing: For patients who are feeling all kinds of jittery and need more immediate relief, some experts recommend vaping CBD through a dry-herb vaporizer, which heats up dried CBD flowers (unlike traditional vape pens which require oil-based cartridges). These are relatively safe because they avoid the by-products produced from burning plant material and can be set to a desired temperature that allows you to get the most benefit from the CBD you are consuming.
In the world of herbal remedies CBD, short for cannabidiol, is like the second coming among enthusiasts. Praised for its healing prowess—for everything from pain and insomnia to gastrointestinal issues and inflammation—the cannabis-born compound is fast developing cult-like status. Not only are physical health benefits reported, but more and more people are turning to CBD to help with mental health conditions—particularly anxiety and depression. And the research is promising. A review in Frontiers in Immunology found that CBD creates a calm in the brain that’s visible on scans—doctors can actually see the angst dissipate. There’s still a lot to learn about CBD’s impact on mood, but we’ve got all the intel to help you weed through the field.
Experts believe careful CBD dosing may help temper anxiety-induced racing thoughts that can cause disrupted sleep as well as panicked awakenings during the night. (In some people, though, too much can make anxiety worse, so be sure to dose slowly and carefully).
What Are the Potential Risks and Side Effects of Using CBD?
Sleep disruption and depression are also closely linked. More than 90% of depressed patients complain about difficulties falling asleep, sleep disruption, or early morning awakenings. CBD may improve their mood or their ability to manage the condition overall. CBD can also be used to treat parasomnias, sleep disorders like jaw grinding, sleepwalking, or nightmares, and it also cuts the time it takes to fall asleep.
changes in appetite.
Generally, it takes about 20 minutes for CBD to make its way to the bloodstream (though every person will react a little differently due to their individual biology, metabolism, and DNA, natch).
To complicate matters, CBD is only FDA-approved for use in one medication, Epidiolex, which is used to treats the seizures associated with two rare forms of epilepsy. Because it’s largely unregulated, navigating the world of CBD can feel like a long, strange trip. And since you can’t be sure exactly what you’re getting, word to the wise: Consume with caution and always consult with your doctor.
There is one major caveat: CBD may cause interactions with certain other drugs, including those for heartburn, migraine, and hypertension—both by enhancing their effects or negating them. This is because medications and natural plant supplements are metabolized by the same liver pathways, and they affect the same serotonin receptors in the brain, so it’s a complex interplay. The bottom line: Talk to your doctor to be sure you're not overconsuming one or the other.
So, you’ll need to do a bit research. Look for integrative and holistic physicians who understand how to support and educate you in the use of phytomedicines.
CBD can be very effective for some people and not make a dent in others. Though it shouldn’t be a stand-alone treatment, it may be a beneficial co-pilot to other anti-anxiety meds or antidepressants, particularly in the time before the effects of antidepressants start to kick in.
If you’re considering CBD, before you make a move, talk with your primary care physician or mental health provider. Remember, CBD is not a substitute for talk therapy or medication. It’s also not a magic cure-all and may work better for some people than for others.
CBD may also have a positive interaction with serotonin receptors in the brain. In a study on mice published in CNS & Neurological Disorders , researchers found that when depressed rodents were given CBD, it impacted the way their brains’ chemical receptors responded to serotonin, producing an antidepressant effect.
That’s one of the great mysteries; the optimal CBD dose is not an exact science. And doctors agree there isn’t one universal dosage of CBD because different people (and different animals, for that matter) respond to different dosages of CBD.
What Is CBD Again?
Additionally, anxiety and stress inhibit GABA, a naturally occurring brain chemical that directs neurons to slow down or stop firing. This neurotransmitter essentially tells the body to chill out by helping to induce sleep, relax muscles, and create a sense of calm. Some scientists believe CBD can help modulate GABA so the body returns to its regularly scheduled programming.
This is one of the great mysteries; the optimal CBD dose is not an exact science. Doctors say there isn’t one universal dosage of CBD because different people (and different animals, for that matter) respond to different dosages of CBD. What experts also agree on, however, is that CBD works best when taken on a regular basis (daily). And the best way to know what works for you is to start on a low dose and titrate up if needed. It may not take as long as for someone with mild symptoms to feel the effects as someone who is dealing with more severe anxiety or depression. The goal is to find the lowest, most effective dose, so work with your doctor and give yourself time to figure it out.
Author of Medical Cannabis and CBD: A Physician’s Guide for Patients; Internal Medicine and Primary Care Doctor.
And, the best way to know what works for you is to start on a low dose and titrate up if needed (follow the recommended dosage instructions on the bottle and talk to your doctor). It may not take as long as for someone with mild symptoms to feel the effects as someone who is dealing with more severe anxiety or depression. Ultimately, the goal is to find the lowest, most effective dose. Work with your doctor and give yourself time to figure it all out.
What experts also agree on is that CBD works best when taken on a regular basis—daily, often two-to-three times a day—because the effects can take time to build—sometimes even months (though, some people report feeling less angsty right away).
Member of the American Cannabis Nurses Association; co-founder of Cannabis Care Team.
The Society of Cannabis Clinicians has a provider finder on their website where you can look for health-care professionals in your area who are well-versed in CBD. The Association of Cannabis Specialists is another great resource for researching cannabis clinicians near you. Another option: Hit up your local CBD dispensary. Oftentimes, they may be able to tell you which physicians are sending their patients in to buy CBD.
Who Should Consider CBD for Anxiety & Depression (and Who Shouldn’t)?
Additionally, CBD can have benefits in social settings. Researchers found CBD decreased anxiety in patients with social phobia by lowering activity in the amygdala and increasing prefrontal cortex activation, the two areas of the brain involved with regulating anxiety. And, it may also help reduce major angst before a stressful event, such as public speaking. Studies, including one published in Neuropsychopharmacology , have shown that CBD administered before a public speech significantly reduced overall anxiety, cognitive impairment, and performance anxiety.
Maybe you’re already an expert on CBD, so feel free to skip to the section below; if you need a crash course, follow right along. CBD is one of two primary chemical entities (cannabinoids) found in the cannabis plant (the other one is tetrahydrocannabinol, THC). Unlike THC, which is what causes you to get high, CBD has no psychoactive effects (one reason why so many people are trying it). CBD derived from hemp differs from marijuana by its THC content. Hemp has less than the legal limit of 0.3% THC, while marijuana contains more than 0.3% THC.
Experts believe careful CBD dosing may help temper the anxiety-induced racing thoughts that can cause disrupted sleep as well as panicked awakenings during the night. While CBD may not help someone with depression directly, it may benefit in other ways that can improve their mood or their ability to manage the condition overall. For example, sleep disruption and depression are closely linked. More than 90% of depressed patients complain about difficulties falling asleep, sleep disruption, or early morning awakenings. CBD can also be used to treat parasomnias, sleep disorders like jaw grinding, sleepwalking, or nightmares, and it cuts the time it takes to fall asleep.
Oils or Tinctures: Keep in mind, not all CBD plant extracts and formulations are created equal (blame it on the wild west unregulated substances create). However, experts believe the most effective form of CBD is an oil or tincture (alcohol-based solution) that’s placed under the tongue. These sublingual preparations ensure the cannabinoids get distributed throughout the body. This method bypasses the gut, which is why experts often prefer it to edibles, most of which get destroyed by the gastrointestinal system. Every person will react a little differently due to their individual biology, metabolism, and DNA, natch.
Also keep in mind, anxiety and depression have a complicated relationship. Both are conditions related to poor sleep, pain, and mood regulation. When we experience more anxiety, we experience more pain, and when we are feeling more depressed, we feel more anxious. It’s a chicken/ egg-like scenario. Here’s where CBD may fit in:
Understanding how CBD affects the brain starts with a lesson about the endocannabinoid system (ECS), basically the biggest system in the body that you’ve never heard of. It controls just about every internal function we have. Movement, pain sensation, immune responses, temperature, mental functioning like perception, mood, and memory—you name it.
Experts believe the most effective form of CBD is an oil or tincture (alcohol-based solution) used sublingually (placed under the tongue). A sublingual preparation ensures the cannabinoids get distributed throughout the body. For patients who are feeling all kinds of jittery and need more immediate relief, some experts recommend vaping CBD through a dry-herb vaporizer, which heats up dried CBD flowers. These are relatively safe because they avoid the by-products produced from burning plant material and can be set to a desired temperature that allows you to get the most benefit from CBD you are consuming.
CBD is thought to positively influence the processes that regulate our mood, sleep, and pain perception, among others. These processes need to function properly, so we feel better, sleep more soundly, and experience less pain. Anxiety and depression are conditions related to poor sleep, pain, and poor mood regulation because the endocannabinoid system isn’t working to the best of its ability.
CBD oil is suggested to have positive effects for people with:
One emerging treatment is CBD oil. It’s becoming more popular with each passing day, but there are still major questions about how effective it is at treating anxiety and depression—and how exactly it helps.
TMS does this by stimulating your brain using electromagnetic pulses. It has very few side effects, and results can be felt in just two weeks.
2. What Is CBD Oil?
Behavioral symptoms of anxiety and physiological symptoms of anxiety, like rapid heartbeat, were reduced in some studies. It’s also been shown to be effective against anxiety-related insomnia.
Due to its lack of regulation, approximately one in five CBD products contain THC, meaning they could give you a high. THC can increase anxiety instead of reducing it. The additional risk in taking CBD oil is that even if the product contains trace amounts of THC, you could still test positive for marijuana on a drug test.
You take CBD oil by either putting a few drops under your tongue with a dropper or mixing it with food. CBD gummies are also becoming popular.
With symptoms like excessive worry, extreme self-consciousness, chest pain, and panic attacks, anxiety can be a debilitating condition . Depression can be equally destructive—feeling sad, with little interest in the activities you once enjoyed.
Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is another type of cannabinoid. It’s the chemical responsible for the “high” one feels after using marijuana. Because CBD is not THC, you cannot get high from using CBD oil.
It isn’t known exactly how CBD oil combats anxiety, but it’s thought to work with a receptor in your brain called CB1 . Researchers believe the interactions between CBD oil and CB1 alter serotonin signals.
1. Depression & Anxiety.
There is also the potential for dangerous drug interactions when taking CBD oil with another medication. If you are taking an antidepressant or any other medications, be sure to consult with your doctor before taking CBD oil.
According to Marcel Bonn-Miller, adjunct assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, 43% of CBD oil products contain too little CBD, while about 26% contain too much.
Cannabidiol (CBD) oil is a type of cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemicals that occur naturally in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol is extracted from the plant and made into an oil .
Quality CBD oil is considered safe, but it does come with a few side effects.
8. Other Alternative Anxiety & Depression Treatments.
Many people are searching for natural treatments for anxiety and depression, and it isn’t hard to see why.
Everyone’s talking about it, so we’re here to help you weigh up the pros and cons, without bias.
While CBD oil for anxiety and depression holds promise, there are significant disadvantages to its use.
Fortunately, there are a wide variety of options for treating anxiety and depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are popular, but they come with a host of side effects. Others have the risk of addiction.
Many people search for a safer, more natural way to treat anxiety and depression, so new options are being developed and researched all the time.