CBD for Anxiety & Depression
CBD for Anxiety & depression for extremely common mental health disorders that can have devastating impacts on health and well-being.
According to the World Health Organization, depression is the single largest contributor to disability worldwide, while anxiety disorders are ranked sixth.
Anxiety and depression are usually treated with pharmaceutical drugs, which can cause a number of side effects including drowsiness, agitation, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, and headache.
What’s more, medications like benzodiazepines can be addictive and may lead to substance abuse.
CBD oil has shown promise as a treatment for both depression and anxiety, leading many who live with these disorders to become interested in this natural approach.
In one study, 24 people with social anxiety disorder received either 600 mg of CBD or a placebo before a public speaking test.
The group that received the CBD had significantly less anxiety, cognitive impairment, and discomfort in their speech performance, compared to the placebo group.
CBD oil has even been used to safely treat insomnia and anxiety in children with post-traumatic stress disorder.
CBD has also shown antidepressant-like effects in several animal studies.
These qualities are linked to CBD’s ability to act on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and social behavior.
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a natural compound that has gained popularity in recent years. Here are some frequently asked questions about CBD answered by two mental health professionals who are working in this area:
1. What exactly is CBD? Is it the same as Cannabis? Hemp? Marijuana plant?
CBD is cannabidiol. It is one of almost 200 cannabinoids that can be found in marijuana plants. Unlike many other cannabinoids, CBD is not psychoactive and has a different pharmacologic profile than other psychoactive cannabinoids. CBD can be extracted from both marijuana plants and from hemp.
2. Is CBD (and CBD products) safe to use?
If there are adequate safety studies of a product, it would be considered safe. However, the CBD products flooding the market are not likely to have undergone any safety testing. In fact, the FDA has issued several warning letters to firms that market unapproved new drugs that allegedly contain cannabidiol. As part of these actions, the FDA has tested the chemical content of cannabinoid compounds in some of the products, and many were found to not contain the levels of CBD they claimed to contain. It is important to note that these products are not approved by FDA for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease. Consumers should beware purchasing and using any such products.
3. It seems like CBD is now being used in lots of products (shampoos, cosmetics, oils, bath salts, etc.). Does it really help when it is part of a product?
There is no evidence that CBD has beneficial effects as part of various products. Furthermore, the amount of CBD in any of these products is unclear.
4. Does CBD based medication really help with anxiety and depression and has it been scientifically proven to help with anxiety and depression?
- There is evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of medical conditions. However, this research is considerably less advanced than for treatment of epilepsy. For most indications, there is only pre-clinical evidence, while for some there is a combination of pre-clinical and limited clinical evidence. The range of conditions for which CBD has been assessed is diverse, consistent with its neuroprotective, antiepileptic, hypoxia-ischemia, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-asthmatic, and antitumor properties.
- There is insufficient scientific evidence to support the claim that CBD is an effective treatment for depression or anxiety. That does not mean it would not help, but there simply haven’t been properly controlled clinical trials to support an indication of CBD for treating anxiety or depression. Considerably more research is required to evaluate CBD as a potential treatment for anxiety and depression.
5. Is there current research in the US for CBD? Are other countries using CBD?
- There are dozens of current clinical trials that are evaluating the potential benefits of CBD for a variety of disorders, e.g., alcohol use disorder, pain, anxiety, PTSD, etc. Most of these studies are being conducted in the US, but some are being conducted in other countries.
- CBD is also being studied in combination with THC (THC is the main psychoactive compound in Cannabis). The CBD+THC combination product is known as Sativex, which is approved for cancer pain and spasticity in Europe and Asia.
6. Is CBD FDA approved and can doctors prescribe it?
Purified CBD extract (GW Pharmaceuticals) was approved by the FDA in 2018 as a treatment for 2 rare forms of epilepsy – Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome – as a Schedule 5 compound. The brand name is Epidiolex.
7. Are there pricing regulations for CBD?
Only for the FDA approved product.
8. How can I be sure that what I am reading about CBD (articles, etc.) is providing truthful information?
Look for scientific evidence to support any claims – controlled trials, evidence that the product under discussion has been assayed by some legitimate source to verify chemical constituents. Engage in a conversation with a medical professional.
How CBD works
The human body has many different receptors. Receptors are protein-based chemical structures that are attached to your cells. They receive signals from different stimuli.
CBD is thought to interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors. These receptors are mostly found in the central nervous system and the peripheral nervous system, respectively.
The exact way CBD affects CB1 receptors in the brain isn’t fully understood. However, it may alter serotonin signals.
Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, plays an important role in your mental health. Low serotonin levels are commonly associated with people who have depression. In some cases, not having enough serotonin may also cause anxiety.
The conventional treatment for low serotonin is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), such as sertraline (Zoloft) or fluoxetine (Prozac). SSRIs are only available by prescription.
Some people with anxiety may be able to manage their condition with CBD instead of an SSRI. However, you should talk to your doctor before making changes to your treatment plan.
Research and evidence
Several studies point to the potential benefits of CBD for anxiety.
For generalized anxiety
For generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) says that CBD has been shown to reduce stress in animals such as rats.
Study subjects were observed as having lower behavioral signs of anxiety. Their physiological symptoms of anxiety, such as increased heart rate, also improved.
More research needs to be done, specifically on humans and GAD.
For other forms of anxiety
CBD may also benefit people with other forms of anxiety, such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It may help treat anxiety-induced insomnia as well.
In 2011, a study researched CBD’s effects on people with SAD. Participants were given an oral dose of 400 milligrams (mg) of CBD or a placebo. Those who received CBD experienced overall reduced anxiety levels.
Multiple recent studies have shown that CBD can help with PTSD symptoms, such as having nightmares and replaying negative memories. These studies have looked at CBD as both a standalone PTSD treatment as well as a supplement to traditional treatments like medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
For other neurological disorders
CBD has also been studied in other neurological disorders.
A 2017 literature review on CBD and psychiatric disorders concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to tout CBD as an effective treatment for depression.
The authors did find some evidence to suggest that CBD could help with anxiety disorders. However, these studies were uncontrolled. This means that the participants weren’t compared to a separate group (or “control”) that might have received a different treatment — or no treatment at all.
Based on their review, more human tests are needed to better understand how CBD works, what the ideal dosages should be, and if there are potential side effects or hazards.
A 2016 study trusted Source found that CBD can have antipsychotic effects in people with schizophrenia. Moreover, CBD doesn’t cause significant debilitating side effects associated with some antipsychotic drugs.
If you’re interested in trying CBD oil for your anxiety, talk to your doctor. They can help you figure out a starting dosage that’s right for you.
However, the nonprofit National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) does advise that very few commercially available products contain enough CBD to replicate the therapeutic effects seen in clinical trials.
In a 2018 study, male subjects received CBD before undergoing a simulated public speaking test. The researchers found that an oral dose of 300 mg, administered 90 minutes before the test, was enough to significantly reduce the speakers’ anxiety.
Members of the placebo group and study subjects who received 150 mg saw little benefit. The same was true for subjects who received 600 mg.
The study only looked at 57 subjects, so it was small. More research, including studies that look at female subjects, is needed to determine the appropriate dosage for people with anxiety.
CBD side effects
CBD is generally considered safe. However, some people who take CBD may experience some side effects, including:
- changes in appetite
- changes in weight
CBD may also interact with other medications or dietary supplements you’re taking. Exercise particular caution if you take medications, such as blood thinners, that come with a “grapefruit warning.” CBD and grapefruit both interact with enzymes that are important to drug metabolism.
One study on mice found that being gavaged with, or force-fed, CBD-rich cannabis extract increased their risk for liver toxicity. However, some of the study mice had been given extremely large doses of CBD.
You shouldn’t stop taking any medications you’re already using without talking to your doctor first. Using CBD oil may help your anxiety, but you could also experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking your prescription medications.
Symptoms of withdrawal include:
Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.
How to buy CBD oil
In some parts of the United States, CBD products are only allowed for specific medical purposes, such as the treatment of epilepsy. You may need to get a license from your doctor to be able to purchase CBD oil.
If cannabis is approved for medical use in your state, you may be able to purchase CBD oil online or in special cannabis clinics and dispensaries. Check out this guide to 10 of the best CBD oils on the market.
As research on CBD continues, more states may consider the legalization of cannabis products, leading to wider availability.