Using CBD oil for anxiety and depression is one area of cannabis use backed up by a growing number of studies. There’s also a huge amount of anecdotal evidence highlighting the effectiveness of cannabis.
It’s an unfortunate reality that millions of people throughout the world suffer from anxiety and depression. They’re looking for different treatments available to help them and, when diagnosed, medications are their first port of call.
CBD oil, an oil made from made from cannabidiol, offers one of those solutions. But a question we get asked all the time is does CBD oil really work?
This incredible little gem has constantly been shown to provide beneficial effects, helping relieve symptoms for a large number of health conditions.
Below, we’ll outline exactly what you need to know about using CBD oil for anxiety and depression, including whether or not it really works (but before reading on, we suggest you have a read of our beginner’s guide to CBD for some background).
Using CBD Oil for anxiety and depression: The facts
It’s estimated that over 45 percent of the Australian population will encounter mental health issues at some point during their lives.
These statistics aren’t surprising, and are in fact similar in several other countries throughout the world.
Anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues. Every year thousands of people are diagnosed (or, indeed, suffer without a diagnosis at all).
These illnesses can be devastating, preventing people from fully living their lives. It can make working, participating in social activities, and having fun with friends or family extremely difficult. In the worst case scenario, it can lead to suicidal thoughts, self-harm and even suicide itself.
It’s therefore so important not to suffer alone and seek treatment for anxiety or depression. Natural health supplements such as CBD oil are a popular choice.
CBD Oil for anxiety: how does it work?
CBD oil, commonly known as cannabis oil, is a hemp-derived substance. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one cannabinoid found in the hemp plant. But there are hundreds of others, including the notorious tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
CBD and other cannabinoids work with the body’s endocannabinoid system. This helps regulate functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, pain and more.
CBD is believed to work together with the CB1 and CB2 receptors, located in your body’s nervous systems. The oil is thought to play an important role with serotonin (the chemical that affects your mood and controls your happiness). Those who have low levels of serotonin typically suffer from anxiety and depression.
Most people with moderate to severe anxiety or depression are prescribed traditional medicine such as anti-depressants. Think brands like Prozac and Zoloft.
But for those who are looking for quick relief, without strong pharmaceuticals, CBD oil is a natural substance that may be both effective and gentle on the system.
Typically, the most common approach to administer CBD oil is to drop the required dosage underneath the tongue.
What do the studies say?
Research into CBD is still in its early stages. So there is no conclusive evidence that the cannabinoid (and therefore, CBD oil) is the surefire magic bullet that will work 100% of the time.
Readers are strongly encouraged to consult their doctor before trying CBD oil for anxiety and depression.
That being said, there is a growing body of scientific literature that is pointing towards the benefits of CBD oil for mental health conditions. The cannabinoid has been associated with reduced stress, lower anxiety, higher self-esteem, improved sleep and lesser depression.
We’ll explore some of these studies below.
Generalised anxiety disorder
One 2015 study reviewed the existing evidence of CBD to treat disorders relating to anxiety. It found that studies on humans are supportive of CBD’s anti-anxiety effects. Yet more research is needed to completely understand it.
Animal studies, however, do support the cannabinoid to treat anxiety-related conditions. There is evidence to suggest that CBD can be an effective treatment for generalised anxiety disorder, with the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse highlighting certain studies showing therapeutic benefits in animals such as rats.
In one 2020 study, 397 adults in New Zealand were given medical CBD prescriptions for a number of conditions. They reported an improved quality of life after only a period of 3 weeks. This included a reduction in symptoms associated with depression and anxiety. Nearly three quarters of these adults reported some levels of satisfaction with the treatment. Another recent study conducted in 2020 found that using CBD had a prehedonic effect on rats, pointing “toward an anxiolytic or antidepressant-like effect of CBD”.
One 2019 study used IV doses of CBD on rats, resulting in a finding that these animals experienced reduced anxiety-type behaviour. Dr Danilo De Gregorio, one of the researchers, stated that the study they undertook showed that “low doses of CBD administered for seven days alleviate both pain and anxiety, two symptoms often associated in neuropathic or chronic pain”.
Dr Gabriella Gobbi, lead author of that study, also showed positive perspective. She said their findings “elucidate the mechanism of action of CBD and show that it can be used as medicine without the dangerous side effects of the THC”.
Social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder (SAD) refers to a condition involving large levels of anxiety in social situations. This includes suffering anxiety at meetings with various people or speaking in public.
Despite its acronym, SAD is not simply a case of being sad, or shy. It is a recognised mental health condition but it is not a completely understood one. In fact, only about 30% of patients demonstrate recovery without continuing symptoms on conventional medications.
In a recent 2019 study, 37 teenagers with SAD were allocated at random to receive treatment with CBD and a placebo. They did not know which medication they had received.
Those who ingested the CBD enjoyed, in fact, reduced levels of anxiety. More so, over half of the participants that took CBD made the decision to receive hospital treatment. None of the placebo-affected individuals did so). This is an enlightening finding, indicating these teenagers overcame their anxiety, fought the stigma and asked for help.
While the study itself does have limitations, it concludes that the results “provide evidence for anxiolytic effects of repeated CBD administration in teenagers with SAD”.
While most studies ingesting CBD for depression has been focused on animals, their findings have been impressive.
In one 2018 study, CBD was found to induce an effect similar to an anti-depressant, concluding that the data collected supports a “promising therapeutic profile for CBD as a new fast-acting antidepressant drug”.
Another 2018 review of the existing literature revealed a number of studies indicating the cannabinoid’s anti-depressant effect on animals.
More studies on humans will need to be conducted in order to completely understand CBD’s antidepressant effect.
The bottom line: does CBD oil work?
CBD has been shown in an ever increasing body of research to provide a variety of health benefits. This includes for people who suffer from anxiety and depression. It could potentially boost your mental health, help you focus and enjoy living life to its fullest.
But research is not conclusive, and you should always consult your doctor before making the decision to use it.
The amount of CBD oil you should take for anxiety or depression-related conditions will vary. It depends on a number of factors including the strength of the product, the severity of your illness and your weight. A handy tool to determine dosage is our handy CBD oil calculator.