CBD for Depression: A Complete Guide

Shot of unhappy lonely depressed young woman sitting on bed at home. Depression concept.

According to a Gallup poll from 2019, 14% of Americans say that they use CBD products. When you factor in the extent to which CBD has exploded onto the marketplace in the last few years, it’s probably fair to assume that the percentage is quite a bit higher than that now.

While using CBD appears to be more popular among younger adults and people out west, there’s hardly a place in the country where you can’t bump into a CBD product in corner stores, health food stores, and boutiques.

Another thing that’s unfortunately quite common in the US is depression. In fact, it’s estimated that 6.7% of American adults have at least one episode of major depression in any given year.

Are you thinking about using CBD for depression but aren’t sure whether it will help? Let’s take a look at what you need to know to help reduce your depression symptoms and get your life back.

What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is one of the two most prominent cannabinoids (or active compounds) in the cannabis plant. The other most prevalent compound is THC, which is the cannabinoid that is responsible for the “high” associated with marijuana.

While the world of CBD research is still young, there is a lot of optimism about the potential benefits of CBD. While medical marijuana has a number of uses for people with a variety of disorders and diseases, not everyone enjoys the mind-altering side effects. CBD seems to offer some of the same benefits that THC does without the high.

What Are the Benefits of CBD?

People use CBD for a lot of different reasons. These include:

  • Pain relief
  • Anxiety and depression management
  • Alleviating cancer-related symptoms
  • Sleep disorders

Some recent studies have found that CBD might help to treat a number of different medical conditions including:

  • Epilepsy
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Chron’s disease
  • Acne
  • Chronic pain
  • Addiction
  • Schizophrenia
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Insomnia

There is so much more to be learned about CBD as well as cannabis as a whole. With the 2018 Farm Bill and the legalization of industrial hemp at the federal level, it is now easier for researchers to study the potential benefits of this cannabinoid.

CBD For Depression and Anxiety

CBD could potentially interfere with other medications. This means that it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor if you’re thinking about trying CBD. That being said, let’s take a look at what the research says about CBD for depression and anxiety.

CBD For Depression

There is some evidence at this point that CBD might help to improve depression. Studies have found that CBD might alter serotonin levels, which is a neurotransmitter that has to do with stress, mood, and emotional regulation. A common class of anti-depressant are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work by affecting the levels of serotonin in the brain.

One rat study from 2020 found that CBD helped to decrease symptoms induced by various stressors over a 28 day period. Another study from 2019 found that CBD could help to reduce one of the common symptoms of depression in rats, which is helplessness.

A study from 2018 focused on medical cannabis users and found that cannabis reduced symptoms of depression, stress, and anxiety. The symptoms of depression were reduced by 50%. On top of that, the researchers found that low amounts of THC and high amounts of CBD produced the most significant improvements in depression symptoms.

A case study from 2019 focused on a teenager who had depression, anxiety, and multiple substance use disorders. They found that treatment with CBD over an eight-week period resulted in a reduction of anxiety and depression symptoms. The adolescent was also able to stop taking antidepressant medications and attain abstinence from all substances.

CBD For Anxiety

While it is possible for people to have either anxiety or depression and not both, it isn’t uncommon for an individual to suffer from both mental health disorders. There are a number of studies that suggest that CBD could help to reduce anxiety and provide benefits for people who suffer from this condition.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse says that, for generalized anxiety disorder, CBD has been found to decrease stress in animals. CBD might also help people who have other types of anxiety, such as post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder. Additionally, anxiety-induced insomnia might also be helped by CBD.

Using CBD: What You Need to Know

There are four basic ways that you can use CBD. There are countless different CBD products on the market, and it’s a good idea to do some research into the company you’re buying from to make sure you’re getting a high quality product.


You can take CBD orally in the form of capsules, oils, tinctures, and sprays. You can either add these to other liquids like coffee or smoothies or take them as they are.


CBD-infused foods are widely available. From gummies and brownies to sodas and flavored waters, you can find just about anything you’re looking for.

Smoking and Vaping

Smoking and vaping is, of course, another option. Follow this link if you’re curious about the difference between herbal cigarettes and CBD cigarettes.


You can find CBD in lotions, beauty products, creams, salves, and balms. Topical applications are usually used for pain, though, rather than mental health conditions.

CBD For Depression: Is It Right For You?

One would imagine that we will learn a lot more about the potential benefits of CBD in the coming decades. At this point, though, there is definitely some evidence that suggests that using CBD for depression and anxiety could have some benefits.

Because CBD doesn’t have much in the way of side effects, there’s little harm in trying it out (after you talk to your doctor about it, that is.) You can always start with a low dose and see how it makes you feel before increasing your dose.

Did you find this article about CBD for depression helpful? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog!