CBD for Depression: Does It Work?

Many people use CBD to boost their mood and improve their state of mind - and some even believe it treats depression. But what does the research say? And how do you treat Depression with CBD?

CBD is one of the most popular supplements on the market right now, and it’s been said to treat everything from inflammation to seizure conditions to anxiety. What’s more is that it’s a natural, relatively safe treatment that most people tolerate really well. For this reason, many people use it for a range of issues.

While there is a lot of research that demonstrates the benefits of CBD, there is also a lot we don’t yet know. Here’s what you need to know about using CBD to treat depression.

What is CBD?

CBD - short for cannabidiol - is a hot topic at the moment. Before you try it for yourself, it’s important to know what it is and how it can affect your body.

Every mammal has an endocannabinoid system. This system is responsible for helping your body maintain homeostasis, which is a natural, healthy balance. The endocannabinoid system also affects most of your organs and bodily processes.

Your endocannabinoid system is affected by cannabinoids, the chemical compounds that are found in hemp and cannabis. When people smoke cannabis or use CBD extracts, it affects their body because of the cannabinoids. 

CBD is one of the most well-known, well-studied cannabinoids. CBD can’t get you high, but it’s believed to have numerous benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Treating seizure conditions
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing pain
  • Soothing anxiety and stress
  • Aiding with sleep
  • Treating certain skin conditions

Many people also believe CBD can help with depression.

Can CBD treat depression?

There is a lack of research on whether CBD can truly treat depression in humans. However, the research is promising. 

First of all, what causes depression? Depression is linked to low levels of serotonin, known as the “happiness hormone”. Most antidepressant medications, such as Zoloft and Prozac, are selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications don’t produce more serotonin; instead, they stop your brain from reabsorbing serotonin, which allows the serotonin to stay active for longer. This works to lift your mood and reduce feelings of depression and hopelessness.

It is believed that CBD works in a similar way, although studies have yet to confirm this. 

A 2010 study on mice as well as a 2014 study looked at how CBD affects mood in animal subjects. It found that CBD affected the receptors in the brain so that it reduced both anxiety and depression. More recently, a 2019 study, which also involved animal subjects, found that CBD had fast, effective antidepressant-like effects.

CBD also seems to treat a few issues that might contribute to depression. For example, CBD could help with: 
  • Stress. A 2018 review of studies showed that research suggests CBD has stress-reducing effects. For those who experience depression due to stress, CBD might be able to provide some relief.

  • Anxiety. Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand. Interestingly, there’s a lot of research that suggests that CBD can be used to treat anxiety. For example, a 2012 review showed that CBD has anti-anxiety effects. It’s particularly said to help with social anxiety. 

  • Pain. Pain can contribute to depression; after all, it’s hard to stay upbeat when your body is in pain. CBD’s pain-reducing effects have been studied extensively over the years. A 2018 review found that CBD is an effective treatment for cancer-related pain, fibromyalgia, and neuropathic pain.
  • Sleeplessness. Since CBD can help with stress and anxiety, many people use it to improve their sleep. There’s some evidence that suggests that CBD helps with certain sleep issues. A 2019 study suggested that CBD can reduce anxiety-related insomnia, and a 2014 study showed that CBD reduces grogginess and promotes wakefulness. Since sleep issues are linked to depression, a natural sleep supplement may help.
If CBD has the ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and pain, it’s no wonder why many people believe that it lifts their mood and helps them beat depression.

Is CBD Safe?

CBD is a fairly safe supplement, according to the available research. Humans can tolerate large amounts of CBD - around 1,500 milligrams a day, according to studies. For context, most people start using about 20 to 30 milligrams per day and they later increase the dosage. 

There are very few side effects of CBD. The most common side effects include nausea, fatigue, and appetite changes. If you experience any of these side effects, chat to your doctor. 

Another risk of CBD is that it can interact with certain medications. This is because CBD can affect the way your body processes chemicals. If your medication carries a “grapefruit warning,” you probably shouldn’t use CBD. 

No matter whether you’re on other forms of medication or not, it’s best to talk to your doctor before you try CBD. 

If you’re on antidepressants, you shouldn’t change your dosage or stop taking the medication without your doctor’s approval. Suddenly changing or stopping your medication can worsen your mood, so it’s not a good idea to simply swap out your antidepressants for CBD. 

If you’re not on antidepressants, it’s still a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking CBD. A doctor that is familiar with CBD will be able to advise you on the best brand, dosage, and time to take CBD.

What kind of CBD should I use to treat depression?

If you go to a CBD store or try to buy CBD online, you’ll notice that there are numerous CBD brands and forms of CBD. It can be pretty overwhelming to choose the CBD you want to use, especially if it’s your first time using CBD.

CBD comes in many different forms. These forms include: 
  • tinctures 
  • oils
  • gummies
  • capsules 
  • edibles (including food, beverages, and candy)
  • ​​massage oil 
  • topical treatments (including creams, lotions, balms, and even makeup)

If you want to treat pain or skin in a localized area, topical CBD treatments like massage oils, creams, or salves can be helpful. But if you want an internal effect - such as reducing stress, anxiety, or depression, you’d need to actually ingest CBD.

CBD capsules, pills, and gummies are convenient because they have a set dosage in each one. Let’s say that you bought gummies, and there’s 10mg of CBD in each gummy. To get 20mg a day, you’d simply have to take two gummies. With oils and tinctures, though, it can be more difficult, as you’d have to get a particular number of CBD drops to get the correct amount of CBD. 

No matter what form of CBD you want to use, it’s essential to use high-quality CBD. Some companies have actually gotten into trouble because they sold so-called CBD products that contained no CBD at all. It’s essential to go for a brand that has all their products tested by an independent lab, also known as “third-party testing.” Their website should have a lab report that confirms the contents of the CBD.

Not sure which brand of CBD to use? Ask your doctor or at a local CBD or cannabis store. Feel free to look at online reviews by Googling the brand or taking a look at their social media. It’s worth taking time to research CBD before buying it - after all, your health is worth the effort.

How much CBD should be used to treat depression?

What dosage of CBD is best to treat depression? It’s hard to say, because of the lack of research on the topic. However, most people start by consuming between 20mg and 30mg per day, or even less, and gradually increasing that dosage. It’s a good idea to keep a notebook where you record how you feel every day; this will help you figure out when you start feeling better so that you can calculate the exact best dosage for you. A good dosing guide can be a useful tool for you.

Unlike Tylenol, CBD doesn’t work immediately. CBD is closer to a regular antidepressant or even a multivitamin in that you have to take it every day for a few weeks before you notice a difference in how you feel. Don’t be discouraged if the CBD doesn’t seem to make an immediate difference - keep taking it and see how you feel. 

CBD is a natural supplement that is relatively safe and well-tolerated by humans. Research also shows that CBD has numerous health benefits, and it might even be able to improve your mood - so it’s no wonder why some people use CBD to treat their depression. If you want to try CBD for depression, be sure to discuss it with your doctor beforehand to ensure that it’s safe for you.

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