CBD for Depression and Anxiety

In the past few years, CBD has been making a big splash on the holistic health scene. Medical marijuana has been controversial because of the THC but CBD products do not have to contain THC to be therapeutic and therefore can be beneficial to a larger market. 

Emerging research and studies have shown promising results when using CBD to treat depression, anxiety, and anxiety disorders. I want to cover some of the newest research that could show promise on how to use CBD to treat anxiety and depression in individuals who are looking for alternatives to regularly prescribed pharmaceuticals. 

CBD in Treating Depression

In studies, CBD works as an anxiolytic agent (anti-anxiety) and potentially an antidepressant. The findings came from an animal study and explored the prohedonic effect CBD had on rats. The study involved giving CBD to a rat that is genetically “depressed” and saw improvement in their motivation when orally administered CBD and suggests that CBD might be beneficial in the treatment of depression in humans, as well (1).

This wasn’t the first study exploring the treatment of depression with CBD in animals. Several other studies on mice also confirmed that CBD works as an anti-depressant due to the quick release of serotonin and glutamate (a neurotransmitter) when administered to the subjects. 

Another huge benefit of these studies comes from the side effects, or rather, lack thereof. When administered for depression, unlike pharmaceuticals that can have many negative side effects, there were no noticed side effects on the subjects who took the CBD (2). Many people who fear the side effects of regularly prescribed meds for depression may find CBD a good alternative. 

Something else to consider is that the CBD in medical marijuana could help with depression seen in people with chronic pain. People living with chronic pain tend to have higher levels of depression in general. In studies that compared the treatment of chronic pain with opioids and medical marijuana (containing CBD) the levels of depression in the medical marijuana group were lower (3). This proves promising for showing how CBD could even contribute to lower depression rates in a higher risk group. 

CBD in Treating Phobias and PTSD

Phobias and PTSD are anxiety and trauma-related disorders that are characterized by persistent fear-based thoughts or memories. Common treatments are exposure therapy, which has been shown to be more of a temporary fix, and medications that can have negative health side effects (4). In a study of CBD on fear-related anxiety, it showed potential as a long-term solution by leading to longer-lasting reductions in learned fear expression in subjects. Plus no negative side effects make it more favorable than medications with known side effects (5). 

Further exploration of a large case study in 2019 showed that “cannabidiol may hold benefit for anxiety-related disorders” (6). This study was focused on CBD and its effect on anxiety and sleep-related problems. Another significant finding from the study was that CBD was “well-tolerated” in 72 out of 75 adults that were in the study.


Treatment of Insomnia with CBD 

Insomnia is often linked to other underlying disorders like pain, chronic inflammation, neurodegeneration, mood disorders, and diabetes. Because there seems to be a positive impact on mood and mental states when taking CBD, this could lead to its use when trying to treat the underlying causes of insomnia. 

Other positive effects on sleep like lengthened total sleep time and significantly increased REM sleep in animal studies can help improve sleep in those taking CBD. It can also be used during the day to help wakefulness and can counteract the negative toll that not getting enough sleep can take on the body. The increased REM sleep can help treat disorders that contribute to insomnia which might be caused by or aggravated by lack of restorative sleep (7). 

While more research is needed to find out the long-term treatment options of CBD for depression and anxiety disorders, the current research shows that it can be promising for those looking for natural relief of these mood disorders. Never switch medications or stop medications for anything prescribed to you without the help of your doctor. 

Choosing the Right CBD Product for Treatment 

Those looking to try CBD as a natural way to relieve acute anxiety can seem to benefit from using it at the onset of anxiety or daily usage for mood management. There are two options when choosing CBD that prove helpful. Full-spectrum CBD has .03% THC which falls below the threshold for psychiatric effects for most people but provides the best absorption and most potent health benefits of CBD. Those who do not wish to ingest any amount of THC can choose a THC free version of CBD. 


Ways to Ingest CBD

After picking the type of CBD you wish to use, you’ll also want to explore the different ways to take it. Although there are several types, we will cover the top three that you can ingest as that is the way people in the studies took CBD. There are several options that can help you find out which way is right for you.


Tinctures are referred to as the purest way to take CBD because the oil does not have to be altered to create this product. The dosage can be anywhere from just 100mg all the way up to 1000mg per dose and it’s important to understand what strength is best for you. Tinctures are taken by dropping a few drops below the tongue. For the best results, hold the drops under your tongue for a few seconds so that the CBD can absorb sublingually. 


Tinctures last a long time as you only use a few drops at a time. You can also find these flavored and it can make it more enjoyable to consume. 


These can get messy when putting under the tongue until you get used to it.
Holding it under your tongue can feel weird until you are used to it.


Capsules are CBD in the form of pills. These tend to have a concentration of 10-30mg per capsule and it’s easier to measure out how much you want per dose. 


These are easy to add to your daily routine if you are already taking vitamins each day. It’s also the least messy option.
Easy to change and measure dose when experimenting with how much to take.


Not great for people who have trouble swallowing pills.


Sprays with CBD in them are consumed by spritzing the concentrate directly into your mouth. You measure by pumps of the spray. This tends to be the weakest of the concentration of CBD at only 1-3 mg per spray. 


Easy to measure and slowly ramp up dose.
Great way to travel with CBD.
Low dosage for beginners.


Low concentration means using more of it if you want a strong dose.


  1. Shoval, Gal, et al. “Prohedonic Effect of Cannabidiol in a Rat Model of Depression.” Neuropsychobiology, Karger Publishers, 25 Mar. 2016, www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/443890#.
  2. “Treating Depression with CBD Oil.” CBD Psychiatrist, CBD Psychiatrist, http://cbdpsychiatrist.com/treating-depression-with-cbd-oil/.
  3. Feingold, Daniel, et al. “Depression and Anxiety among Chronic Pain Patients Receiving Prescription Opioids and Medical Marijuana.” Journal of Affective Disorders, Elsevier, 21 Apr. 2017, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0165032716320018.
  4. Jurkus, Regimantas, et al. “Cannabidiol Regulation of Learned Fear: Implications for Treating Anxiety-Related Disorders.” Frontiers, Frontiers, 11 Nov. 2016, www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2016.00454/full.
  5. Lee, Jonathan L C, et al. “BPS Publications.” British Pharmacological Society | Journals, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd (10.1111), 9 Mar. 2017, bpspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bph.13724.
  6. TMCC Admin Team. “CBD, Natures Anxiolytic: Exploring How Hemp Can Treat Anxiety (Instead Of Causing It).” The Medical Cannabis Community, 1 Oct. 2019, themedicalcannabiscommunity.org/articles/blog/cbd-natures-anxiolytic-exploring-how-hemp-can-treat-anxiety-instead-of-causing-it-2/.
  7. “Treating Sleep Disorders with CBD products. Helping you combat Insomnia when everything else has failed.” CBD Psychiatrist, CBD Psychiatrist, https://cbdpsychiatrist.com/treating-sleep-disorders-with-cbd-products-helping-you-combat-insomnia-when-everything-else-has-failed/.