Is Using CBD For Depression A Good Idea?

WRITTEN by Caleb

 | Last revised

Thinking of dumping your antidepressants for CBD? Some might question the idea of replacing a regulated pharmaceutical for a cannabinoid.

But CBD for depression and anxiety isn’t some fringe idea. We know a lot about CBD and its antidepressant effects.

Why does CBD help with depression? What about CBD and THC oil for depression? Does CBD for anxiety and depression actually work?

Research is clear on how antidepressants work, but what about CBD for depression and anxiety? Let’s look into the science.

Science Confirms: CBD For Anxiety and Depression

Both human and animal studies have shown CBD’s role as an antidepressant and anti-anxiety substance.[1]

Studies show CBD helps manage depression by activating the 5-HT1A receptors. CBD also helps create new neurons in the hippocampus. [2][3]

Of course, scientists would like more research before making any conclusive statements. As it stands, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest CBD alone can help treat depression.

But while CBD for depression and mood may not be conclusive, it’s getting harder to discount CBD’s role in reducing anxiety. There are plenty of anecdotal reports you can read about online.

A 2011 double-blind placebo-controlled study gave patients with Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) 600 milligrams of CBD. [4]

The results were impressive. Researchers used a public speaking test to gauge anxiety levels. They saw significant improvements for those taking CBD over those taking the placebo.

A 2015 study came to the same conclusions.[5]

Researchers looked at CBD’s effects on generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and PTSD.

CBD is increasingly seen as an effective treatment as an antidepressant.

The published studies show doctors shouldn’t be afraid of prescribing CBD for depression. Or for anxiety, epilepsy, schizophrenia, substance abuse and dependence, PTSD, Parkinson’s disease, or for sleep disorders.

Overall, researchers think CBD might have a calming effect on the central nervous system. [6]

CBD for Depression and Substance Abuse?

Whether you want to rely on CBD solely is another matter, but it’s clear that CBD for depression and mood works.

But what about the more extreme cases?

Consider the case of a 16-year-old boy with substance abuse problems, a deep depression medication he wouldn’t respond to, and narcissistic personality disorder. [7]

With antidepressants not working, researchers tried giving him CBD capsules in various dosages over eight weeks.

Their findings? The patient’s mood improved, and he quit taking other drugs like cocaine and ecstasy. He also claimed to have little to no withdrawal symptoms.

After this study, researchers have started looking further into CBD for substance abuse problems.

CBD and THC Oil for Depression?

Suppose you got too high on THC and started panicking. You’d be suspicious if someone offered you a CBD joint to calm down.

More weed to combat the first bout of paranoia weed caused? Are you nuts?

But what happens when you combine CBD with THC? Is CBD and THC oil for depression as effective as CBD on its own?

Research seems to indicate yes. A Journal of Cannabis Research study looked at CBD and CBD compounds like Nabiximol to treat mental health disorders, including a dependency on THC.[8]

Nabiximol is an extract of cannabis that has a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. Its brand name is Sativex.

Researchers have long since known about the entourage effect. The entourage effect is where cannabis cannabinoids work better when present together. This is why many recommend full-spectrum CBD instead of isolate products.

And when it comes to CBD for depression, research suggests that the presence of THC alongside other cannabinoids like CBD “may contribute to the overall mood-elevating properties of cannabis.” [9]

How CBD Works to Alleviate Depression?

Research suggests CBD interacts with the 5-HT1A serotonin receptors in the brain.[10] (Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, often called the “feel good hormone.”)

5-HT1A receptors are responsible for controlling mood, cognition, and memory, which is why antidepressants work by increasing postsynaptic 5-HT1A signalling. [11]

Antidepressants only work when the 5HT1A receptor is activated. 5-HT1A receptors are essential in reducing depression and anxiety.

Researchers are confident that a dysfunction of the 5HT1A receptor results in mental health disorders like depression.

A study conducted on rodents showed that CBD activates the 5HT1A receptors. It also suggested that CBD could increase the expression of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF.[12]

Your BDNF helps produce new brain cells while strengthening existing ones. It is related to brain neuroplasticity. [13]

And the research is pretty detailed. Depressed people have decreased levels of BDNF.
A 2018 study showed how CBD might increase BDNF by creating new synaptic formations and cell proliferation. [14]

CBD may also contribute to neurogenesis, that is, the production of new neurons in the hippocampus.[15]

Studies on mice show that producing hippocampus neurons lowers depression-related behaviours. [16]

Research published in Current Neuropharmacology investigated the link between the endocannabinoid system and the formation of neurons and antidepressants. [17]

They found that manipulating CB1 and CB2 receptors can contribute to the formation of neurons in the hippocampus.

A 2018 study confirmed THC had adverse effects on the hippocampus, but CBD reverses those effects.[18]

This study suggested using CBD to relieve patients of THC dependency and for any psychiatric disorders that involved hippocampus pathologies.

A magnifying glass over a cannabis plant with an imprint of Australia’s flag in the shape of the country

CBD Oil for Depression Australia

Since several studies show the benefits of CBD for depression and anxiety, does that mean you can stop taking your antidepressant medication?

Not quite. Since CBD is only available in Australia through the TGA, we recommend you discuss this with a health care professional first.

Unfortunately, no conclusive research suggests CBD alone can treat these conditions.
That said, we know CBD has anti-anxiety and antidepressant properties. It activates the 5-HT1A receptors, which are crucial for reducing depression.

The best CBD for anxiety and depression are going to be full-spectrum products. If you can’t find them through the TGA, you can try the “green” or black market.

Australians use this market every day. Many of the products are regulated by the foreign countries where they originate from. So while they might have ended up in Australia illegally, they’re generally safe to use.

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1. José A Crippa, Francisco S Guimarães, Alline C Campos, Antonio W Zuardi, "Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age".
2. Alexandre R de Mello Schier, Natalia P de Oliveira Ribeiro, Danielle S Coutinho, at el., "Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa".
3. Camilla Beale, Samantha J Broyd, Yann Chye, at el., "Prolonged Cannabidiol Treatment Effects on Hippocampal Subfield Volumes in Current Cannabis Users".
4. Mateus M Bergamaschi, Regina Helena Costa Queiroz, Marcos Hortes Nisihara Chagas, at el., "Cannabidiol reduces the anxiety induced by simulated public speaking in treatment-naïve social phobia patients".
5. Esther M Blessing, Maria M Steenkamp, Jorge Manzanares, Charles R Marmar , "Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders ".
6. Scott Shannon, Nicole Lewis, Heather Lee, Shannon Hughes, "Cannabidiol in Anxiety and Sleep: A Large Case Series".
7. Clarissa Laczkovics, Oswald D Kothgassner, Anna Felnhofer, Claudia M Klier, "Cannabidiol treatment in an adolescent with multiple substance abuse, social anxiety and depression".
8. Rabia Khan, Sadiq Naveed, Nadeem Mian, at el., "The therapeutic role of Cannabidiol in mental health: a systematic review ".
9. Abir T El-Alfy, Kelly Ivey, Keisha Robinson, at el., "Antidepressant-like effect of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L".
10. Alexandre R de Mello Schier, Natalia P de Oliveira Ribeiro, Danielle S Coutinho, at el., "Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa".
11. Flavio Guzman, "The 5-HT1A Receptor in Psychopharmacology ".
12. T V Zanelati, C Biojone, F A Moreira, F S Guimarães, Sâmia R L Joca, "Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors".
13. Siresha Bathina, Undurti N Das, "Brain-derived neurotrophic factor and its clinical implications".
14. Ariandra G Sartim, Amanda J Sales, Francisco S Guimarães, Sâmia Rl Joca, "Hippocampal mammalian target of rapamycin is implicated in stress-coping behavior induced by cannabidiol in the forced swim test".
15. Ana M Enciu, Mihnea I Nicolescu, Catalin G Manole, at el., "Neuroregeneration in neurodegenerative disorders ".
16. Alexis S Hill, Amar Sahay, René Hen, "Increasing Adult Hippocampal Neurogenesis is Sufficient to Reduce Anxiety and Depression-Like Behaviors".
17. Manoela Viar Fogaça, Ismael Galve-Roperh, Francisco Silveira Guimarães, at el., "Cannabinoids, Neurogenesis and Antidepressant Drugs: Is there a Link? ".
18. Camilla Beale, Samantha J Broyd, Yann Chye, at el., "Prolonged Cannabidiol Treatment Effects on Hippocampal Subfield Volumes in Current Cannabis Users".


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Disclaimer. While we strive to relay the most factual education available, this shouldn’t replace official medical or legal consultation and recommendation. This is for educational and entertainment purposes only. Happy days.

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