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CBD as a treatment for depression: anti-stress and anti-depressant effect

The properties of CBD may be beneficial in alleviating different symptoms of depression. In this article we bring together studies and sources of information to address the efficacy of cannabidiol in depressive disorders. Read on to find out more.

CBD as a treatment for depression: anti-stress and anti-depressant effect
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Depression is a mood disorder, i.e. it affects the emotional and psychological state and is reflected in social and professional functioning, being the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Depression is an illness that affects 5% of the adult population but can occur at all ages, interfering negatively with a person’s quality of life, in the personal, family, work and social spheres. In its most severe form it can even lead to suicide.


Symptoms of depression

  • Feelings of sadness and pessimism, hopelessness.
  • Loss of interest and sense of pleasure in doing things.
  • Lack of mental energy and cognitive problems. (attention, memory, concentration).
  • Feelings of anguish, guilt and helplessness.
  • Irritability, frustration, anxiety.
  • Sleep and rest problems or oversleeping.
  • Changes in appetite and eating (weight gain or loss).
  • Lack of physical energy, tiredness and inactivity.
  • Physical discomfort of psychological origin

Types of depression

The most common types are mainly characterised by duration:

  • Major depression: duration of at least 2 weeks.
  • Persistent depressive disorder: depressive state lasting 2 years with fluctuating symptoms.

There are other forms related to other factors:

  • Major depression with psychotic symptoms
  • Anxiety-depressive disorder: classified as an anxiety disorder with a marked depressive component.
  • Postpartum depression: characterised by the symptoms and duration of major depression.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: depressive symptoms related to the premenstrual period
    Seasonal affective disorder: depressive symptoms related to the seasons, usually the colder seasons.

Causes and Treatment of depression

Genetic, biological, psychological, environmental and socio-cultural factors may be involved. In many cases depression is triggered by a traumatic event that has emotional impact and/or physical consequences.

At the brain level, depression is related to low levels of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline, the neurotransmitters that pharmacological treatment stimulates through antidepressants. Although drugs can help at the symptomatological level, treatment involves different psychological therapy strategies.

Depression and the Endocannabinoid System

El Sistema Endocannabinoide es el sistema fisiológico que se encarga de mantener el equilibrio de nuestro organismo y juega un papel crucial en la regulación de los mecanismos de estrés, tanto a nivel físico como psicológico. Puedes informarte más en este artículo sobre cómo el CBD ayuda a reducir altos niveles de estrés.

A nivel fisiológico, el SEC interactúa con diferentes neurotransmisores, incluyendo la serotonina, la dopamina y la noradrenalina. Esta acción es debida principalmente a los receptores CB1, presentes sobre todo en el Sistema Nervioso Central y a los 5HT1a, receptores de la serotonina. (5)

Se ha hipotetizado, como ocurre en otras enfermedades, que un desequilibrio del Sistema Endocannabinoide puede dar origen a los mecanismos fisiopatológicos de la depresión.

Por esta razón, gracias a un tratamiento con fitocannabinoides es posible modular los niveles de los neurotransmisores mencionados, mejorando los síntomas físicos y psicológicos de la depresión. (6)

Aunque el uso del THC podría resultar positivo en algunos casos en los cuales el consumo es controlado y supervisado por un profesional, en la mayoría de los casos la psicoactividad podría llevar a un empeoramiento de los síntomas, siendo el abuso de THC un factor de comorbilidad de la depresión. (7)(8)(9)

En cambio, el uso del CBD podría representar una buena herramienta terapéutica por sus diferentes mecanismos de acción, sus efectos y por no ser psicoactivo.

el CBD regula el sueño, apetito y el estado de ánimo

How CBD could help treat depression?

Las propiedades del CBD pueden ser beneficiosas para aliviar diferentes síntomas de la depresión:

  • Estimula indirectamente los receptores endocannabinoides CB1 y CB2, que participan en la regulación de los neurotransmisores relacionados con la depresión
  • Estimula los receptores 5-HT1a, ayudando a regular los niveles de serotonina y dopamina para favorecer la estabilidad emocional
  • Estimula el funcionamiento del Sistema Endocannabinoide facilitando su labor en el mantenimiento del equilibrio psico-físico, en la gestión y reducción del estrés y en el mantenimiento de la energía mental y física
  • Tiene un efecto ansiolítico y antipsicótico, siendo de gran ayuda en caso de padecer de un síndrome ansioso-depresivo o síntomas de tipo psiquiátrico
  • Tiene un efecto relajante a nivel mental y físico, favoreciendo una buena calidad del sueño y del descanso y el restablecimiento de unos ritmos circadianos naturales.
  • Su efecto neuroprotector y antioxidante favorece la plasticidad neuronal favorece las funciones cognitivas afectadas por los estados depresivos
  • en caso de padecer de depresión asociada a malestares físicos de tipo inflamatorio que causan dolor, también el efecto antiinflamatorio y analgésico del CBD podría ser de gran ayuda


El aceite de cbd ayuda contra todo tipo de dolores musculares. Descubre sus beneficios y propiedades.

What do studies say about the use of CBD for depressive symptoms?

There are studies in both animals and humans that demonstrate the safety and efficacy of CBD in the treatment of depressive symptoms, justifying the need for more comprehensive and controlled studies.

In addition, there is strong clinical evidence for the efficacy of CBD in alleviating symptoms of anxiety, which is often associated with depressive disorders. Several clinical trials are studying its anxiolytic properties in depth.


How to use CBD for depression?

In order to take advantage of the properties of CBD that help alleviate depressive symptoms, it is necessary to use it internally (not regulated in Spain), both through inhalation and sublingual use. It is advisable to start with low to medium concentration products (5%-10%), initially using minimal doses (1-2 drops) and gradually increasing the dose until the effects appear. In any case, when opting for this route, it is always advisable to contact a specialised professional who can offer personalised advice, follow-up and, if possible, psychological therapeutic support.

Precautions: Is CBD safe?

CBD is a very safe substance even if used in large quantities, but care should be taken when taking medication or if you suffer from heart or blood pressure problems. For this reason in these cases it is always advisable to contact a health professional.

Possible side effects

Side effects are usually mild to moderate and may include tiredness, drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness and decreased appetite.



  5. Rana, T., Behl, T., Sehgal, A., Mehta, V., Singh, S., Kumar, R., & Bungau, S. (2021). Integrating Endocannabinoid Signalling In Depression. Journal of molecular neuroscience : MN, 71(10), 2022–2034.
  6. Onaemo, V. N., Fawehinmi, T. O., & D’Arcy, C. (2021). Comorbid Cannabis Use Disorder with Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis of Nationally Representative Epidemiological Surveys. Journal of affective disorders, 281, 467–475.
  7. Lowe, D., Sasiadek, J. D., Coles, A. S., & George, T. P. (2019). Cannabis and mental illness: a review. European archives of psychiatry and clinical neuroscience, 269(1), 107–120.
  8. Feingold, D., & Weinstein, A. (2021). Cannabis and Depression. Advances in experimental medicine and biology, 1264, 67–80.
  9. García-Gutiérrez, M. S., Navarrete, F., Gasparyan, A., Austrich-Olivares, A., Sala, F., & Manzanares, J. (2020). Cannabidiol: A Potential New Alternative for the Treatment of Anxiety, Depression, and Psychotic Disorders. Biomolecules, 10(11), 1575.
  10. Oberbarnscheidt, T., & Miller, N. S. (2020). The Impact of Cannabidiol on Psychiatric and Medical Conditions. Journal of clinical medicine research, 12(7), 393–403.
  11. Crippa, J. A., Guimarães, F. S., Campos, A. C., & Zuardi, A. W. (2018). Translational Investigation of the Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD): Toward a New Age. Frontiers in immunology, 9, 2009. 
  12. De Mello Schier, A. R., de Oliveira Ribeiro, N. P., Coutinho, D. S., Machado, S., Arias-Carrión, O., Crippa, J. A., Zuardi, A. W., Nardi, A. E., & Silva, A. C. (2014). Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. CNS & neurological disorders drug targets, 13(6), 953–960. 
  13. Silote, G. P., Sartim, A., Sales, A., Eskelund, A., Guimarães, F. S., Wegener, G., & Joca, S. (2019). Emerging evidence for the antidepressant effect of cannabidiol and the underlying molecular mechanisms. Journal of chemical neuroanatomy, 98,
Tommaso Bruscolini (Author)

Tommaso Bruscolini (Rimini, Italy) is a neuropsychologist and phytotherapist based in Barcelona, where he has been running a private practice since 2014, both in person and online. In his practice, Tommaso formulates and produces different preparations with all kinds of medicinal plants, in addition to making personalized recommendations.



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