Depression affects hundreds of millions of people around the globe. If you think you might be depressed, you wouldn’t be alone in that feeling, and you deserve help.
Help can come in many forms. If you’re in crisis or feel your depression is severe, you should reach out to a professional (or someone who might help you make your way there).
But not all depressions are created equal. Sometimes, with the right tools, you can safely self-manage your symptoms. In those situations, CBD oil for depression is definitely worth a try — and if it works well for you, it’s something you should always keep in your self-care toolkit (PDF).
Am I Depressed, Though?
It’s easy to think depression just means feeling down. When someone casually says, “I’m feeling depressed,” we understand it to mean they’re really sad and maybe a little out of sorts.
But depression, which might come on suddenly and last a small while, or come on slowly and drag out in the long term, is a mood disorder with a constellation of associated symptoms and changes.
- A lowered mood, persistently sad or empty, overly-anxious
- Feeling hopeless, worthless, helpless, or irrationally/overly-guilty
- Loss of interest or pleasure in things you previously enjoyed
- Irritability, change in emotional regulation
- Changes in sleep and appetite
- Decreased energy and increased fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating, making decisions
Even if you have “good reason” to feel down, we’re supposed to be able to get better. Experiencing some of these symptoms for the better part of 2 weeks or longer and experiencing them worsening over time can be a sign of diagnosable depression.
Does CBD Help With Depression?
Just as depression causes a web of problems in the mind and body, CBD has an interconnected web of benefits. Unfortunately, research on it is still emerging and is so far limited to preclinical animal studies, small-scale human trials, and anecdotal evidence.
But yes, the science does suggest that CBD may be beneficial in tackling depressive disorders. It can interact with both serotonin and endocannabinoid receptors in the body, adjusting mood regulation and other physiological functions.
Does Weed Help With Depression?
Let’s pivot a bit. Plenty of people already use weed to help self-medicate. So you may be thinking, why would I need CBD if I’ve got marijuana?
Here’s a little refresher on CBD first:
- It’s a cannabinoid, one of many compounds found in cannabis plants.
- Its celebrity relative is THC, the cannabinoid in marijuana that gets you high.
- Mass market CBD (like Pure Relief CBD products) is derived from hemp and can have no more than 0.3% THC.
Does it sound kind of like weed without any of the weed in it? That’s actually a good thing. CBD can offer some of the same relief from symptoms of depression — perhaps to a slightly lesser degree — without mind-altering effects or over-stimulation.
Otherwise, you might be looking at one of two options:
- You can accidentally end up with adverse stimulating effects instead of the calming or soothing effect you were after, as weed and anxiety have a clear link in both positive and negative directions.
- Even if you always get the effects you want out of weed, treating depression with a mostly-depressant is a little counterintuitive. It can offer momentary relief, which is useful, but in the long-term or with indiscriminate smoking, you’re only masking the depression without addressing it.
That’s why it’s generally OK to take Prozac and weed, for example, but you should drop the weed when you start Prozac to assess how well it’s working in your unaltered state.
CBD and the Symptoms of Depression
To take CBD for depression, you have plenty of options. It’s available as:
- Sublingual oil (You hold it under your tongue, and it’s absorbed through the mouth, then swallowed.)
- Oral supplements/edibles like gummies or capsules
- Smokeable (traditional buds and vapes)
- Topicals for aches and pains.
Which of these will work best for you depends on what symptoms you’d like to manage.
Mood and Depression
CBD depression treatment isn’t powerful enough to pull you from the dark depths of severe depression or anything like that. It should work well, though, for mildly low mood or issues with regulation (this might look like sudden tears or getting too easily irritated/overwhelmed).
- For this, you want your CBD to work cumulatively throughout the body.
- Take gummies or CBD high-quality oils regularly for a few weeks, like you would a traditional antidepressant.
- CBD affects people differently and doesn’t work well for everybody — you should be able to tell whether or not you’re reaping any benefits after that long.
Sleep is like a cause-and-effect problem within the depression. You need restful sleep to feel your best, get things done, and make proper use of coping skills. But depression often robs us of sleep or robs us of the feeling of being well-rested, which puts us back in a downward cycle.
- Serotonin not only impacts our mood and happiness but sleep patterns as well.
- Since CBD changes how we utilize our serotonin, taking it regularly may help improve your sleep cycle.
- Nighttime CBD gummies contain melatonin to help you fall asleep at the appropriate time and sleep through the night.
Energy and Fatigue
This relates back to sleep issues. You may start the day feeling adequately rested, then crash midday, or have a clear mind but aching body.
- When you take CBD, depression fatigue won’t vanish, but it may aid in regulating your internal clock through the endocannabinoid system.
- For physical aches and irritation, you should try topicals — which often include other helpful topicals like aloe, menthol, or camphor — for targeted areas.
- For general bodily fatigue, smokeable can offer all-over relief.
Anxiety isn’t precisely a symptom of depression, but the two often go hand in hand. It can be a separate disorder or something triggered by your depression. Just like the link between marijuana and anxiety reduction, CBD is commonly indicated for handling your stress and worries.
- The best CBD for a quick, anti-anxiety hit would be smokeable.
- Inhalation gets CBD into your bloodstream almost immediately, and it will take effect soon after.
- If you want to calm down quickly or mellow out before a social function but aren’t into smoking anything, sublingual oil would be your next best bet. But since most of it gets swallowed, not absorbed, it isn’t fast-acting to the same degree.
The initial scientific evidence linking CBD and depression management is good. While we need further and ongoing research, CBD is generally safe and non-habit forming, so if you aren’t currently medicated, it doesn’t hurt to try it!
It can make a useful companion to therapy, a biological boost to complement your mental one, and may even work with your doctor’s treatment plan. Just make sure you consult your doctor.