CBD for Depression: A Better Alternative?

About CBD, Conditions

CBD for Depression

Life is full of ups and downs, and feeling sad or hopeless at times is a part of being alive. However, feeling sad, empty, or hopeless most of the time for over two weeks may mean you have depression.

Depression is a mental health condition which can interfere with the ability to participate in regular daily activities and can even lead to poor outcomes of medical conditions, substance abuse, and suicide. It is one of the most common mental disorders in the US. However, most people with depression, even those with severe depression, can get better with treatment.

Traditional treatments include therapy and medication. However, many pharmaceutical antidepressants have serious side effects. Thus, many people are getting excited about the possible use of CBD for depression. CBD, a non-psychoactive aspect of cannabis plant most commonly extracted from industrial hemp, has been shown to help with many health and neurological issues. It also has an excellent safety profile.

CBD for Depression at a Glance

  • What the claims are: CBD can help relieve the symptoms of depression.
  • What the studies show: Early research indicates that CBD shows strong potential for the treatment of depression. However, more research and clinical trials need to be done before any final conclusions are drawn.
  • What the facts say: Early studies and anecdotes all point towards CBD’s efficacy for addressing depression. While more research is needed, there is reason to be hopeful.

About Depression

Depression affects about 16 million adults in the US, or roughly 6.7% of the US population. It affects 322 million people worldwide, and though it is treatable, most people are not receiving treatment.

Symptoms of depression include:

  • Flattening of mood
  • Loss of emotional expression
  • Loss of interest in normal activities
  • Reduced ability to think or focus
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or hopelessness
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Trouble making decisions
  • Aches or pains, especially headaches or digestive problems, without a clear physical cause
  • Thoughts of death or suicide

These symptoms aren’t just difficult to deal with themselves, but they can also cause a cascading effect into a person’s personal life, education, career, finances, and health. Depression can be a severe issue and, if you are suffering from it, it is important to seek out help. This is especially important because, with proper care, depression is treatable.

CBD for Depression

The cause of depression is unknown, though researchers think it may have to do with a variety of factors, including biological differences, brain chemistry, hormones, and inherited traits. However, there are some established risk factors. Depression has a variety of risk factors, including:

  • Sex. Women are twice as likely to experience depression as men.
  • Family history of depression.
  • Income. The prevalence of depression decreased as family income levels increased.
  • Experiencing trauma.
  • Certain physical illnesses and medications.

In the US, depression is often treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

Two commonly prescribed pharmaceutical antidepressants used to treat depression are SRIs (Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and MOAIs (Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors). However, side effects of these medications can include nausea, weight gain, loss of sexual desire, insomnia, dry mouth, blurred vision or dizziness, constipation, agitation, irritability, and anxiety.

In some cases, antidepressants may cause children, teenagers, and those under 25 to have an increase in suicidal thoughts or behavior. The FDA says that patients of all ages taking antidepressants should be watched closely, especially during the first few weeks of treatment.

Because of these side effects and the potentially dangerous effects of pharmaceuticals, many people with depression are looking for an alternative. CBD oil for depression may be the answer. With an excellent safety profile and wide-ranging health benefits, it may be a potent ally in the battle against depression.

Using CBD for Depression

CBD for depression may be a viable option. It’s important to note that, while early studies (covered below) are hopeful, the FDA has not yet approved CBD as a treatment for depression. That said, both studies and anecdotes overwhelmingly indicate that CBD may be useful in relieving depression, so there is reason to be hopeful.

As far as anecdotes go, many people are saying that CBD has helped them find relief from depression, though some found that it was not effective. Many people note having to experiment with dosage to get the appropriate effect. But what do the studies say?

Medical Studies on CBD for Depression

A review of the research done in 2014 noted that many studies indicate CBD has antidepressive effects. However, most of these studies were done on animals. One such example is a study conducted on mice, in which the authors conclude, “CBD induces antidepressant-like effects comparable to those of imipramine [an antidepressant drug].”

CBD for Depression

The results of a more recent study on rats also indicated CBD’s potential for the treatment of depression. The authors stated that their “results suggest that CBD may be beneficial for the treatment of clinical depression.”

Other studies, dealing mainly with human subjects, focused on the endocannabinoid system as it relates to depression, which is responsible for CBD’s positive effects. This study suggested that the endocannabinoid system could be the target of “the development of a novel class of antidepressants.” Using similar language, another group of researchers said, “our findings indicate that CBD could represent a novel fast antidepressant drug.”

A different study suggested that the endocannabinoid system is linked with depression and stress, indicating that CBD could be used for these issues. Finally, the results of another study “suggest an interrelationship among endocannabinoids, depression and cardiovascular risk factors in women.”

Yet another study indicated that CBD may be effective for treating depression and recommended clinical trials be done.

It’s important to note that all of these studies are preliminary–as of this writing, clinical trials on CBD for depression have not yet been conducted. However, these early studies indicate CBD’s potential for treating depression. So, those hoping for an alternative treatment have reason to be hopeful.

Concerns Related to CBD for Depression

CBD has an excellent safety profile. One study notes this and goes on to say that it is already being used as a medical treatment for other ailments. CBD has already been approved by the FDA for the treatment of a certain form of epilepsy. According to Harvard Medical School, CBD has few side effects and those which do occur are mild, such as nausea, fatigue, and irritability.

The only real cause for concern is that CBD may interact with other medications. Thus, it’s important to consult a pharmacist or doctor before adding CBD to your healthcare routine.

Other than these, the only real concern is that it won’t work. While many people are citing CBD as providing relief from depression and studies look promising, more research still needs to be done. Even in the case of well-established pharmaceuticals, one size does not fit all, and what works for one person may not work for another.


Depression is a serious condition that is relatively common in the United States. While it is treatable through a combination of pharmaceuticals and therapy, many commonly prescribed antidepressants have unwanted side-effects. CBD may be a safer alternative.

Though research is still being done and we are still awaiting clinical trials for a final verdict, the vast majority of early research shows that CBD for depression is promising. What’s more, anecdotes are also encouraging.

Given CBD’s remarkable safety profile and its benefits for other health and psychological conditions, it may be worth adding it to your approach if you’re dealing with depression. However, it is important to consult with both your doctor and your counselor or mental health professional before making changes to an already established mental healthcare routine.

As always, more news about CBD is forthcoming, and if there are any developments, we’ll be the first to let you know.

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Last modified: June 12, 2019