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Does CBD Help with Depression?

The therapeutic potential of CBD spans a wide range of conditions. And while science still has a long way to go in establishing how this cannabis compound can affect the body in various, beneficial ways, what’s known so far is that it’s safe enough to explore these potential benefits through CBD products. 

One promising aspect of CBD is as a potential aid for certain neurological disorders, such as depression. Let’s take a look at how people who experience depression may derive some benefit from CBD. 

does cbd help with depression

How Does CBD Affect the Body?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the primary cannabinoids found in Cannabis sativa. Most scientists agree that CBD may affect the body by directly interacting with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a network of neurotransmitters and receptors found throughout the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

The ECS is responsible for regulating a wide array of responses, such as appetite, mood, sleep, pain, inflammation, and hormone, among many others. Conditions that directly involve any of these responses, therefore, may be influenced by CBD through the ECS.

Although studies are still limited, some of the conditions that may benefit from CBD include:

  • Acute, chronic, or severe pain
  • Inflammatory skin conditions
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Insomnia and poor quality sleep
  • Neurological disorders, such as epilepsy 

CBD and Depression

Studies on CBD’s potential antidepressant effect, so far, only involve animal models. Initial findings suggest that CBD may influence how the chemical receptors in the brain respond to serotonin that’s already present in the system. 

Serotonin is the hormone responsible for stabilizing mood and promoting happiness and an overall sense of well-being. CBD does not actually increase serotonin levels, but only make use of what’s already present. 

CBD may also help alleviate depression by managing factors that commonly contribute to depression, such as anxiety, stress, and sleeping difficulties. Separate studies on CBD’s potential as an anxiolytic (treatment for anxiety disorders) have also revealed promising findings. 

Additionally, at least one animal study has found that CBD works faster and has a more sustained effect compared to common antidepressants. CBD also does not produce the same side effects as antidepressants, such as mood swings, insomnia, agitation, and sexual dysfunction. It’s important to note, however, that high doses of high potency CBD may also cause side effects, including sedation, fatigue, diarrhea, and poor appetite.  

As access to CBD has also increased for scientists, and clinical trials involving human participants now possible, further studies may soon lead to more conclusive evidence on how CBD can be effectively used for the treatment of depression and other serious mental health conditions, including PTSD.  

does cbd help with depression

What CBD Products are Good for Depression?

If you’re already on antidepressant medications, it’s important that you consult your healthcare provider before taking CBD for depression, as CBD may interact with your medications. You should also not substitute CBD for your prescribed antidepressants without seeking medical advice first. 

CBD products that allow absorption into the bloodstream are the most suitable if you’re looking to ease depression. 

CBD oils and tinctures can be taken directly, by placing drops directly under the tongue; they can also be mixed with food and drinks. You may opt for CBD edibles, such as gummies or chocolates, if you prefer a more palatable, convenient, and discreet option. Vaping CBD may be a good choice if you’re already a vaper, as this delivers CBD into the bloodstream almost immediately. 

There’s no one-size-fits-all dosing, although general dosage recommendations are usually based on weight and specific condition. Different individuals have different levels of tolerance for CBD, so it will take some trial and error before you find the proper dose that delivers the results you need. 

Follow the product’s dosage recommendation for your weight group, but start with the minimum recommended dose. Take the same dose consistently for a few days or up to a week to give your body time to adjust; if you don’t get the results you’re looking for, gradually increase the dose and observe your body’s response to this new dose for another week. Keep adjusting your dosage as needed. 

If you experience any of the side effects mentioned above, you may have taken a higher dose than what your body can tolerate. Discontinue use of CBD until the effects wear off, and then you can resume taking CBD at a lower dose.

Final Thoughts

CBD shows promise as an antidepressant with minimal or zero side effects, but this does not mean that you should replace or supplement the antidepressant medications you were prescribed with a CBD product. Always consult your doctor before including CBD in your treatment regimen. 

According to the World Health Organization, CBD is generally safe and is well-tolerated by most individuals. But it may still adversely react with existing medications. CBD has so far not shown any potential for abuse or addiction, but if you happen to choose a poor-quality product, one with significant levels of THC, or with other harmful ingredients, you may experience signs of addiction in the presence of THC or more serious side effects in case of poor-quality CBD.  

Depression is a serious mental health issue and should be addressed appropriately.