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CBD and Depression: What Is Known So Far


December 30, 2018


Sadness and grief are normal human emotions. We all have those feelings from time to time but they usually go away within a few days. Major depression, or major depressive disorder, however, is something more. It’s a diagnosable condition that’s classified as a mood disorder and can bring about long-lasting symptoms such as overwhelming sadness, low energy, loss of appetite, and a lack of interest in things that used to bring pleasure.

Left untreated, depression can lead to serious health complications, including putting your life at risk.


Looking through several articles I found that according to the World Health Organization, depression impacts more than 300 million people each year.


Depression can be a devastating condition, one that has a person laying in bed for months or longer and feeling as if they just aren’t what they should be, or on the other side of the spectrum, bouncing off the walls with anxiety.

In milder forms, depression can lead to interruptions in the ability to work and live a normal life. At its worst, depression can lead to severe and debilitating consequences and sometimes suicide.


With these shocking statistics, more people are beginning to look at CBD oil for depression. Now there is growing evidence that points to CBD as a treatment, which is wonderful news for anyone suffering from depression, as it has no side effects, is impossible to overdose on and comes in many different forms in which to ingest.


Along with depression, anxiety is another mental disorder that impact 264 million people every year. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, nearly one half of all people that are diagnosed with depression also get diagnosed with anxiety. These two mental health conditions appear to go hand in hand.


Today In this article, we will understand more about the root causes of both depression and anxiety, and explain how CBD may be a beneficial compound in treating and assisting those with both depression and anxiety.


What is Depression?

Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act. Fortunately, it is also treatable. Depression causes feelings of sadness and/or a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed. It can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems and can decrease a person’s ability to function at work and at home.


Depression symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include:

Feeling sad or having a depressed mood

Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed

Changes in appetite — weight loss or gain unrelated to dieting

Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much

Loss of energy or increased fatigue

Increase in purposeless physical activity (e.g., hand-wringing or pacing) or slowed movements and speech (actions observable by others)

Feeling worthless or guilty

Difficulty thinking, concentrating or making decisions

Thoughts of death or suicide


Depression can result in the loss of time, productivity, and general life dysfunction.

Not only does depression harm your mental state, it can also aggravate the problems of other chronic conditions like arthritis, asthma, cancer, diabetes, and many other health conditions.


What Causes Depression?

Depression comes in many different forms and can be the result of a single or multiple different factors. Some of the relevant causes of depression include:

Causes of depression

Genetics. People that have a family history of depression may be more prone to developing it.

Past traumatic events

Low self-esteem or insecurity

Various biological changes in the brain

Personality and a lack of belief in oneself

Drug abuse

Chronic health conditions

Certain Medications

Serious stressful events like the death of someone close or the end of a relationship

Chronic stress

Lack of social life

Lack of light as a result of seasons

Inflammation and brain disorders.

There is not one root cause of depression and for many people multiple issues can combine to form a depression.


How & Why Can CBD Oil Help With Depression?


CBD oil is one of the main compounds found in the cannabis plant. In recent years, it has grown in popularity thanks to significant numbers of studies that indicate many health benefits including the treatment of depression and other physical ailments.

Many studies indicate the CBD capsules may be a potent option in alleviating the symptoms of depression and potentially treating it. In a review published in Surgical Neurology International that examined all of CBD’s potential benefits, depression was noted as one of the conditions that CBD holds the potential to treat.


CBD Boosts the Endocannabinoid System


The endocannabinoid system, plays a key role in reducing the effects of depression. It is responsible for many different aspects of neurotransmission, neuroendocrine, and inflammatory processes. In a paper published in Molecular Medicine Reports, each of these processes becomes damaged in those with depression.


CBD is known to boost the functioning of the endocannabinoid system. It works on the enzymes within the endocannabinoid system that are responsible for uptaking the body’s own endocannabinoids. With more endocannabinoids present, the endocannabinoid system can function at an higher level.


Because the endocannabinoid system shows significant effects on the processes that are damaged in patients that suffer from depression, it is possible to conclude that CBD holds potential in treating depression.


An interesting review published in Behavior Pharmacology examined the signalling capabilities of the endocannabinoid system in patients who were depressed against those that were healthy. It showed that those that were depressed showed a type of impairment in the functioning of their endocannabinoid systems.


There is also significant evidence to suggest that one of the main receptors in the endocannabinoid system, the CB1 receptor, plays a significant role in depression.


In the same review from Behavior Pharmacology, the authors examined studies in which the CB1 receptor in the endocannabinoid system was blocked. They found that by blocking this receptor, patients exhibited symptoms that were similar to depression including a reduction in appetite, increased anxiety, and sensitivity to stress.


The similarities between the symptoms resulting from a blockage of the CB1 receptor and depression symptoms lead the authors of the paper to conclude that enhancement of the endocannabinoid system may present a potential form of treatment for depression. CBD is known to boost the functioning of the endocannabinoid system, which makes it a perfect option for those suffering from depression.


One of the key causes of depression can be the stress that comes from daily life. Acute or chronic stress can many times lead to both depression and anxiety. A study in the British Journal of Pharmacology discovered that CBD may reduce the typical responses to stress in rats. Scientists conducting the study subjected rats to various stressful experiences including an elevated maze test, an animal model for testing stress, and periods of restraint. Researchers examined the rats responses to these stressful events. One group of rats received CBD while another received a placebo.


The researchers discovered that the stress responses of the rats that received CBD were significantly lower than the rats that did not. Another study tilted “Beyond the CB1 Receptor: Is Cannabidiol the Answer for Disorders of Motivation?” looked at the ways in which CBD’s effects on stress could result in less anxiety and depression. They concluded after examining multiple studies that the potential of CBD to reduce stress could lead to a reduction in depression symptoms.


CBD Oil Helping The Brain Grow


Another way that CBD holds promise in helping those with depression is the mechanism through which it promotes hippocampal neurogenesis. Hippocampal neurogenesis is the growth of new neurons within the hippocampus of the brain.


A study published in Neuropsychopharmacology looked at the ways in which increasing adult hippocampal neurogenesis could alter the effects of both anxiety and depression. They found that by increasing the amount of hippocampal neurogenesis, symptoms of anxiety and depression were reduced.

In a study where two groups of mice were exposed to constant and repeated stressors, the group of mice that received CBD showed marked decreases in both depressive and anxiolytic symptoms and also experienced hippocampal neurogenesis.

A review of all the research surrounding hippocampal neurogenesis and cannabinoids came to the conclusion that the endocannabinoid system and its receptors play a major role in triggering neurogenesis. The review, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, looked at the various stages of neurogenesis and sought to gain a better understanding of how the body’s own endocannabinoids and plant cannabinoids could play a role in neurogenesis.

This lead the authors of the study to conclude that CBD and the alteration of the endocannabinoid system had tremendous potential in treating and aiding those with mood disorders like depression.


Reducing Inflammation


While it is still uncertain as to whether inflammation is an actual cause of depression, there is research that suggests that inflammation may be a key predictor as to whether or not other depression treatments will work. One study examined the impact of inflammation on treatment resistant depression. It discovered that 45% of those suffering from treatment resistant depression were also suffering from inflammation.

Another study discovered that markers of inflammation could be used as a reliable predictor of whether or not standard antidepressants would be effective. Researchers could look at how much inflammation a patient had and accurately predict if an antidepressant would work as a treatment.

In a study titled “Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs,”researchers analyzed the ways in which CBD and other cannabinoids could reduce or impact inflammation throughout the body. They came to the conclusion that CBD can act as an anti-inflammatory substance throughout the body.

More research is needed into the ways in which the inflammation that CBD targets impacts depression. However, because inflammation is a key indicator of whether or not antidepressants will be effective, there is reason to believe that CBD may have the potential to aid in the treatment of depression through its reduction of inflammation.


CBD Oil For Anxiety And Depression:

At its worst, depression can lead to suicidal ideation and sometimes suicide. As antidepressants have not totally solved the problem of depression, finding new and novel ways to treat this condition is a matter of life and death.

In a study titled “High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide,”researchers examined the correlation between states that had legalized cannabis and suicide rates. They found that in states that had legalized cannabis, suicide rates for males between the ages of 20 and 29 fell by 11 percent, suicide rates of males between 30 and 39 fell by 9 percent, and the overall suicide rate fell by 5 percent.

When states legalize cannabis, the consumption of alcohol tends to drop along with the rates of depression. This is only one study and more research is needed on the topic. However, it does show exciting promise for the mental health benefits that both CBD and the cannabis plant hold for those suffering from depression.


Concluding Thoughts: CBD Oil For Depression


Depression harms more than 300 million people throughout the world each year. With these alarming statistics, many companies and scientists are seeking out new and novel and ways of curing this debilitating and mysterious mental condition.

CBD oil for depression is one of the newest and most popular options for those looking for an alternative to pharmaceutical intervention.


CBD helps those with depression in a number of ways. CBD boosts the functioning of the endocannabinoid system which is an integral part both physical and mental health. CBD shows promise in inducing hippocampal neurogenesis, a type of brain cell growth that some studies indicate may lead to a lessening in the symptoms of depression.

CBD also reduces inflammation. While inflammation may or may not be a direct cause of depression, current data indicates that inflammation may reduce the efficacy of some of the most common treatment options.


As more research is done, CBD may become one of the best options for those suffering from depression. Hopefully this natural plant-based compound may help scientists and doctors decipher this worldwide mental health scourge.

If you’re interested in taking CBD for anxiety, keep in mind you may need to experiment with dosages before you get the relief you deserve.


A common CBD starting dose is 5 – 10 mg once or twice per day. If that doesn’t seem to do the trick you can try gradually increasing the dose over time by 5 – 10 mg until you feel the results you’re looking for. It’s a good idea to try a new dose for a few days to see if it’s necessary to increase or make adjustments.


Remember, when looking for the best ways to take CBD for anxiety, vaping is going to offer the fastest results. If you’re looking for relief without “smoking” CBD, look for a capsule or tincture. While these won’t work as fast as vaping, they can still provide the relief from anxiety you’re looking for…it will just take a little longer.


Because of possible drug interactions and your unique health situation, remember to speak to your doctor or a health care practitioner before beginning any supplemental program, CBD included.

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