CBD for Depression

By Dr. Frank Michalski

Depression is the leading nonfatal disease burden in the world. Depression is silently afflicting millions of people every year. Only 30% of patients achieve remission with one treatment and only 70% with four cumulative treatments.

Depression, at its core, is defined as a diagnosable condition that is classified as a mood disorder and can result in long-lasting symptoms. Symptoms include overwhelming sadness, low energy, loss of appetite, low self-esteem, physical symptoms, and lack of interest in things that used to bring pleasure.

The top 6 types of depression are listed below: 

  1. Major Depressive Disorder
  2. Persistent Depressive Disorder 
  3. Bipolar Disorder 
  4. Seasonal Depression 
  5. Postpartum Depression 
  6. Psychotic Depression 
Symptoms of depression include: 
  • Irritability 
  • Persistent Sadness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Loss of Appetite 
  • Difficulty with sleeping or insomnia 
  • Aches and pains
  • Thoughts of suicide

Causes of Depression

This is a complicated question. In brief, depression is thought to be related to a chemical dysfunction in the brain. Depression is linked to brain chemistry, hormones, and genetics. Several recognized risk factors may lead to increased chances of experiencing depression.

According to Healthline, the following may be risk factors for depression:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety disorders 
  • Physical or sexual abuse 
  • Chronic diseases such as cancer, MS, and diabetes
  • Alcohol or drug use disorders 
  • Certain medication side effects 
  • Genetics, gender, and age. 

CBD & Depression

In many cases, depression is the result of an "adverse memory." The area in the brain responsible for storing memories is the hippocampus. When the brain is unable to store away adverse memories or interpret them properly, depression may result. 

Research is showing that CBD stimulates the CB2 receptors in the hippocampus. So what you ask? When CBD binds the CB2 receptors in the hippocampus, the excitation threshold is increased. In plain English, this means there is a decreased response of the hippocampus to adverse memories. This reduced response of the hippocampus may lead to decreased symptoms of depression and an improved mood.

According to CBD What You Need to Know:

CBD works by naturally balancing endocannabinoid tone, which results in a healthy response to adverse memories. This may be of benefit to both anxiety and depression.

In a rat model study, rats with depression were given CBD orally or a placebo. CBD treated rats showed increased exploration and locomotion. These findings express the potential benefit of CBD for depression.

Commonly used pharmaceuticals for depression often target serotonin, a chemical messenger that helps to stabilize mood. The ECS works similarly to the way that serotonin and dopamine work. Some research indicates that cannabis does impact serotonin levels.

According to CBD A Patients Guide to Medical Cannabis: 
  1. In 2009 researchers concluded that there was substantial evidence pointing to endocannabinoid signaling as a target for the pharmacotherapy of depression." Authors of a 2016 study cited that "CBD could present a novel fast antidepressant drug." CBD may be useful for depression related to chronic stress, which has been shown to decrease endocannabinoid levels.
  2. Authors of a 2013 review of animal studies wrote that CBD showed anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects. 
  3. Dr. Michael Moskowitz states, "It is important to remember that CBD improves the activity of the endocannabinoid system by increasing the bodies' cannabinoids (ANA). ANA works by acting on the CB1 and CB2 receptors, impacting GABA, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. CBD restores balance.

Please keep in mind CBD may also positively impact many of the risk factors for depression. CBD has been shown to positively impact chronic disease, addiction, PTSD, insomnia, and other “causes” of depression. 

CBD Dosing

Although antidepressant medications provide relief for many people, they have side effects. Side effects often include addiction, increased suicidal thoughts, loss of sex drive, weight gain, and anxiety.

CBD, for many, may provide a conservative, safe option for healthy mood support.  

For most, the micro and standard dosage will apply. Go slow and increase until the desired effect. For many, results may be experienced in as few as four days. Please refer to the video and blog on dosing under the media tab for more information.

CBD is not studied for emergencies involving depression or its symptoms. THC use may worsen symptoms of depression with chronic or high concentration THC usage.   


*This content is strictly the opinion of Dr. Frank Michalski and is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of medical advice or treatment from a personal physician. All viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Frank Michalski nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.


  1. CBD: A Patients Guide to Medicinal Cannabis by Leonard Leinow & Juliana Birnbaum   

  1. CBD: What You Need To Know by Gregory L. Smith, MD, MPH

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5874292/