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Cannabis is an illegal drug which can affect your mental health. Find out about the effects cannabis can have on your mental health, and how to get support. Cannabis and Depression: What’s the Correlation? Due to varied genetics, age, and preexisting conditions, people often have different reactions to cannabis. Though the core components of Interest in the use of CBD to for mental health issues such as anxiety and depression has grown in recent years. Explore mental health uses for CBD.

Cannabis and mental health

Cannabis is an illegal drug which can affect your mental health. This page is about the effects that cannabis can have on your mental health. And how to get help and support. You may also find this page if you care for someone who uses cannabis.

If you would like more advice or information you can contact our Advice and Information Service by clicking here .

  • Overview
  • About
  • How does it work?
  • How can it make me feel?
  • Cannabis & mental health
  • Psychosis & schizophrenia
  • Is cannabis addictive?
  • Get help
  • Confidentiality
  • Useful Contacts

Overview

  • Cannabis is known by different names such as marijuana and weed.
  • Cannabis is a drug that can make you feel happy or relaxed. And anxious or paranoid.
  • THC is the main chemical in cannabis which can change your mood and behaviour.
  • Skunk is the most common name for stronger types of cannabis which has more THC.
  • Research has found a link between cannabis and developing psychosis or schizophrenia.
  • Psychosis is when you experience or believe things that other people don’t.
  • Schizophrenia is the name of a mental illness. If you have schizophrenia, you can have psychosis and other symptoms.
  • If cannabis is affecting your health or how you feel, you can see your GP.

Need more advice?

What is cannabis?

Cannabis is an illegal drug made from the cannabis plant. You can smoke or eat cannabis. You can smoke it on its own or mix it with tobacco to make a ‘joint’ or ‘spliff’. It can also be cooked in food or brewed in tea.

People use cannabis for different reasons. Sometimes they use it to relieve mental or physical symptoms. This is called self-medication. This may make you feel better in the short term. But in the longer term it can increase problems or create new ones.

Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in Britain. Young people are more likely to use it than older people.

Cannabis can be called marijuana, dope, draw, ganja, grass, hash, herb, pot, and weed, and other things.
Stronger types of cannabis can be called skunk, super-skunk, Northern Lights, Early Girl and Jack Herer.

You can find more information about cannabis, on the FRANK website. You can find the details of the website in the Useful Contacts section of this page. The website tells you what cannabis looks like, how it is used and the law on cannabis.

How does cannabis work?

Cannabis will go into your bloodstream when smoked. It will quickly be carried to your brain and stick to your receptors. This will affect your mood and behaviour.

Cannabis contains lots of different chemicals known as cannabinoids. Some examples are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the main active ingredient in the cannabis plant. The more THC there is in cannabis, the greater the effect will be.

Skunk is a stronger variety of cannabis. It contains higher levels of THC. Evidence suggests that the effects of skunk are faster and stronger than milder cannabis.

CBD can lessen the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC such as hallucinations and paranoia. It can also reduce anxiety. This means that the effects of THC will be lower if there is more CBD in the plant.

How can cannabis make me feel?

The effects of cannabis can be pleasant or unpleasant. Most symptoms will usually last for a few hours. But there can be unpleasant long term symptoms. Especially if you used cannabis regularly over a long period of time. The risks can also be worse if are young and smoke strong cannabis, like skunk.

What are the pleasant effects of cannabis?

Cannabis can make you feel happy, relaxed, talkative or laugh more than usual.You may find that colours and music are brighter and sharper. Pleasant effects are known as a ‘high.’

What are the unpleasant effects of cannabis?

Cannabis can cause hallucinations, changes in mood, amnesia, depersonalisation, paranoia, delusion and disorientation. You might find it harder to concentrate or remember things. You may find that you can’t sleep well and you feel depressed. You may also feel hungry or like time is slowing down.

You might have lower motivation. And cannabis can affect how you sense things. You may see, hear or feel things differently. This is known as hallucinating. Hallucinations can be a sign of psychosis.

Psychosis can be a symptom of mental illness, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder and bipolar disorder. These can be called ‘psychotic illnesses.’

You can use the links below to find out more about:

Or call our General Enquries team on 0121 522 7007 and ask them to send you a copy of our factsheet.

Can cannabis affect my mental health?

Regular cannabis use is linked to an increased risk of anxiety and depression. But most research seems to have a focus on the link between psychosis and cannabis.

Using cannabis can increase the risk of later developing psychotic illness, including schizophrenia. There is a lot of reliable evidence to show a link between the use of stronger cannabis and psychotic illnesses, including schizophrenia. But the link is not fully understood.

Cannabis may be one of the causes of developing a mental illness, but it isn’t be the only cause for many people. Not everyone who uses cannabis will develop psychosis or schizophrenia. And not everyone who has psychosis or schizophrenia has used cannabis. But you are more likely to develop a psychotic illness if you smoke cannabis. And are ‘genetically vulnerable’ to mental health problems.

‘Genetically vulnerable’ means that you are naturally more likely to develop a mental health problem. For example, if people in your family have a mental illness, you may be more likely to develop a mental health problem. if someone in your family has depression or schizophrenia, you are at higher risk of getting these illness when you use cannabis.

Cannabis can have the following effects.

  • Long term use can have a small but permanent effect on how well you think and concentrate.
  • Smoking cannabis can cause a serious relapse if you have a psychotic illness.
  • Regular cannabis use can lead to an increased risk of later developing mental illness. Especially if you use cannabis when you are young.

For more information, see our ‘Does mental illness run in families’ section Or call our General Enquiries team on 0121 522 7007 and ask them to send you a copy of our factsheet.

What is the difference between psychosis and schizophrenia?

Psychosis and schizophrenia aren’t the same illness.

Psychosis is the name given to symptoms or experiences, which include hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinations make someone experience things differently to other people. This might be seeing things or hearing voices. Delusions are when people have unusual beliefs that other people don’t have.

Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects how someone thinks or feels. Symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations and delusions. But often it will have other symptoms like feeling flat or emotionless, or withdrawing from other people.

Use the links below to find out more about:

Or call our General Enquiries team on 0121 522 7007 and ask them to send you a copy of our factsheet

Is cannabis addictive?

Cannabis can be addictive.

About 1 in 10 regular cannabis users become dependent on it. Your risk of getting addicted is higher if you start using it in your teens or use it every day.

You can develop a tolerance to cannabis if you use it regularly. This means you need more to get the same effect.

If you become addicted, you may feel withdrawal symptoms when you don’t use cannabis. For example, you might:

  • be irritable,
  • have cravings,
  • have sleep problems,
  • be restless, and
  • have mood swings.

You might smoke cannabis with tobacco. If you do you may become addicted to nicotine. This means you are at risk of getting diseases such as cancer and heart disease. So, if you stop using nicotine or cut down you could experience nicotine withdrawal too.

You can get information on stopping smoking tobacco by clicking the following link: www.nhs.uk/live-well/quit-smoking/take-steps-now-to-stop-smoking/

How can I get help if cannabis is affecting my health?

Can I see my GP?

Speak to your GP if cannabis use is affecting your physical or mental health. Be honest with your GP about your cannabis use and symptoms. Your GP may not offer you the right support if they don’t know the full picture.

  • offer you treatment at the practice, or
  • refer you to your local drug service.

You can find local drug treatment support by clicking on the following link: www.talktofrank.com/get-help/find-support-near-you

What can my local drug service do?

The service can offer counselling, support groups and advice. They can help you to:

  • reduce your cannabis use,
  • stop using cannabis,
  • reduce the affect that cannabis has on your life, and
  • support you to not start using again.

The service may be provided through the NHS or through charity. You may be able to self-refer to this type of service. If you can’t self-refer speak to your GP or health professional.

Should I be referred to a specialist mental health service?

Your GP should refer you to a specialist mental health service if they think you have psychosis.32 The service could be the Community Mental Health Team or an Early Intervention Psychosis service. Both psychosis and schizophrenia can be treated using antipsychotic medication and talking treatments.

Find out more about:

Or call our General Enquiries team on 0121 522 7007 and ask them to send you a copy of our factsheet.

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Can I be excluded from services?

You shouldn’t be excluded from:

• mental health care because of cannabis misuse, and
• a substance misuse service because of psychosis.

Can I see a therapist?

A therapist may be able to help you to understand the reason why you use drugs.

There are lots of different types of therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is suggested as a treatment if:

  • you misuse drugs, and
  • have a common mental health problem such as depression or anxiety.

Or call our General Enquiries teams on 0121 522 7007 and ask them to send you a copy of our factsheet.

Can I get further support?

• Speak to a specialist drug service such as Frank.
• Join a support group such as Marijuana Anonymous UK.

Details of Frank and Marijuana Anonymous UK can be found at the end of the factsheet in the ‘Useful contacts’ section.

Find out more about:

Or call our General Enquiries team on 0121 522 7007 and ask them to send you a copy of our factsheet.

What about confidentiality?

You might be worried about telling your GP or other health professionals that you are using cannabis. But health professionals must stick to confidentiality laws. This means that they usually won’t be able to tell other people or services about what you have told them. Unless you agree.

They can only tell other people about what you have said if:

  • there is a risk of serious harm to you or to others,
  • there is a risk of a serious crime,
  • you are mentally incapable of making your own decision, or
  • the NHS share your information under ‘implied consent’.

For example, you might tell your doctor that you are planning to hurt yourself. Your doctor could decide to share this information with or healthcare or social care professionals. They should only do this to protect you and make sure you’re safe.

Find out more about:

Or call our General Enquiries team on 0121 522 7007 and ask them to send you a copy of our factsheet.

Useful Contacts

FRANK
Gives confidential advice to anyone concerned about using cannabis or other drugs.

Telephone helpline: 0300 123 6600. Open 24 hours a day
SMS: 82111 Email: through website
Live chat: through website. Open 2pm – 6pm everyday.
Website: www.talktofrank.com

Marijuana Anonymous
They are run by people who have experience of cannabis use. They offer a 12-step recovery programme for people who want to quit cannabis use and are free to use.

DrugScope
Gives online information on a wide range of drug related topics. They do not have a helpline.

Narcotics Anonymous
They run online meetings and face to face meetings all over the country for people who want to stop using drugs. They offer sponsorship.

Telephone helpline: 0300 999 1212. Open 10am – 12 midnight.
Website: www.ukna.org

Adfam
A national charity for families and friends of drug users. It offers support groups and confidential support and information.

Telephone admin: 020 3817 9410
Address: 2nd Floor, 120 Cromer Street, London, WC1H 8BS
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.adfam.org.uk

Release
They give free non-judgmental, specialist advice and information to the public and professionals on issues related to drug use and drug laws.

Telephone helpline: 020 7324 2989
Address: 61 Mansell Street, London E1 8AN
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.release.org.uk

Addaction
A charity that supports people to make positive behavioural change. Such as a problem with alcohol, drugs, or mental health and wellbeing. They give support for families too. They have different services in different parts of the country.

Telephone admin: 020 7251 5860
Address: Part Lower Ground Floor, Gate House, 1-3 St. John’s Square, London, England, EC1M 4DH
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.addaction.org.uk

Change Grow Live (CGL)
A charity that supports people to make positive behavioural change. Such as a problem with alcohol, drugs, or mental health and wellbeing. They give support for families too. They have different services in different parts of the country.

Webchat: via website
Website: www.changegrowlive.org/

Turning Point
Works with people affected by drug and alcohol misuse, mental health problems and learning disabilities.

Address: Standon House, 21 Mansell Street, London, E1 8AA
Email: through the website
Website: www.turning-point.co.uk

DNN Help
You can get free rehabilitation treatment through your local drug team. But you can pay for private treatment if you want to. This is an online treatment finder for private rehabilitation services.

Cannabis and Depression: What’s the Correlation?

Due to varied genetics, age, and preexisting conditions, people often have different reactions to cannabis. Though the core components of cannabis — THC, CBD, and terpenes — usually produce constant and measurable results, there are always variables unique to each person that can produce undesired effects. So, can cannabis make you depressed? The short answer is ‘yes.’ That said, there are some notable conditions that can increase or decrease your chances of feeling depressed after smoking cannabis (or consuming it in another form).

In today’s guide, we will answer a few important questions regarding the relationship between cannabis use and depression.

Why do I feel depressed after smoking cannabis?

Is it normal that cannabis makes me sad?

Finally, what are some steps I can follow to enjoy cannabis and avoid negative side effects?

If you’re feeling depressed, sad, or anxious when using cannabis, this guide will help you learn some potential reasons, as well as some tips for avoiding these effects in the future.

Can cannabis cause depression?

There are dozens of different factors that can contribute to the positive or negative effects you may experience while using cannabis. If you’re feeling depressed during or after cannabis use, here are a few explanations as to why this might be happening:

Cannabinoid Content

The main reason people experience varying effects when using cannabis is that different cannabinoid content and terpene compositions result in dramatically different emotional experiences. For example, some canna-consumers report that cannabis use renders better results for their mental health problems like depression than they experience with antidepressants. On the other hand, other users have reported symptoms of psychosis or schizophrenia when using potent cannabis products. The point being, as individuals, our brains react uniquely to various inputs. Variables like underlying medical conditions, genetics, and even environment can all lead to various experiences with both cannabis and traditional mental health treatment options.

The CBD level and terpene composition of your cannabis are also important factors. If you only experience negative effects on occasion, it is most likely the result of a formulation or dosage that is not optimal for you. Fortunately, you can easily take control of your cannabis composition and dosage by switching to a cannabis product that is consistently and accurately dosed, like Koan Cordials.

Cannabinoid Sensitivity

As previously mentioned, unique factors about you (age, genetics, pre-existing conditions, diet, etc.) all have an effect on your experience. Some people might have a sensitivity to THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids in cannabis. Given that THC in high concentrations, can lead to undesirable mental health events, it is usually the best compound to begin “dialing in” to discover the dosage that works best for you. Spoiler alert: Most users actually require a lot less THC than they think in order to achieve their desired effects.

High doses of THC are known to trigger feelings of anxiety or paranoia, which is surprising because lower doses have actually shown the ability to produce a calming effect. Therefore, too much THC is probably the first thing to consider if you’re wondering why you’re feeling depressed after ingesting cannabis. CBD can actually dampen some of the negative effects of THC — even at higher doses.

If you feel that THC contributes to your depression — or any other mental health concern for that matter — you can find products with a higher concentration of CBD to help mitigate any negative effects. Alternatively, you can use a product that is more balanced, with more CBD and less THC. If you believe that you are sensitive to THC and suspect that it amplifies mental health concerns like paranoia or depression , you may also want to consider finding a product that contains a balanced blend of other non-intoxicating cannabinoids like CBD or CBG. Additionally, you may look for terpenes that have shown evidence of potential antidepressant effects like limonene, linalool, and beta-caryophyllene.

User Intent

Intent matters more than most people realize. Even if your product’s formula is right for you, the wrong setting or state of mind could result in disappointing experiences. While many people with depression use cannabis to fight the condition, consuming cannabis in a depressed state could actually worsen your symptoms. In other words, if you are already feeling sad, cannabis might amplify your negative mood.

There are two factors within your control that can greatly reduce the onset of depression symptoms when using cannabis. First, ensure that you’re in an environment in which you feel comfortable. If possible, try to be in a place that makes you feel safe and happy. For example, you may feel safe consuming cannabis at home with a loved one, but you may not feel at peace consuming cannabis with strangers in an unfamiliar space.

Second, try to avoid using cannabis if you’re already feeling depressed. It can be tempting to use cannabis as an “escape,” but this can actually do more harm than good. That said, if you can keep the THC level and dosage at moderate levels, research shows that both THC and CBD can have antidepressant effects — regardless of your current state of mind.

Does cannabis make your depression worse? If so, look for these products.

If you find that cannabis may cause or amplify mental health problems like depression, you may not want to abandon cannabis entirely. In fact, there are a number of potential physical and mental health benefits associated with cannabis use. So, what are some products that can allow you to continue enjoying cannabis without the negative side effects?

First, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all product. Everybody reacts a little differently to cannabis, so finding the right product for you will likely require some research and self-discovery. That said, it’s important to know what to look for in a cannabis product.

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Generally speaking, you should choose products that list the amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes so that you can have control over your emotional experience. It may require some experimentation, but you can almost certainly find the right THC & CBD ratios and dosages for you. At the end of the day, the composition of your cannabis is the most important factor.

However, the composition is almost irrelevant if you don’t get the dosage right. Even if you choose a low-THC blend, you could end up smoking or vaping it in large quantities, thereby consuming a high level of THC. This, in turn, could bring on or worsen depression symptoms.

Many wellness-minded cannabis users often opt for consumption methods that allow you to better control the dosages. Smoking and vaping are by far the worst methods if you’re trying to achieve a precise dosage. It’s nearly impossible to get the numbers exactly right with either method, even if you’re using it as a medical treatment. Edibles and tinctures make it easier, but you still have to manage the measurements yourself, which could still result in a bad experience if your product is poorly homogenized [mixed]. Thus, single-dose cannabis products are the best way to get the dosage right and not overdo the THC content. Additionally, single-serving cannabis products like Koan Cordials offer users the ability to predict and repeat experiences due to the laboratory precision in which they’re produced.

Can cannabis cause depression or other mental health issues like psychosis?

Up to this point, we’ve largely focused on the short-term effects of cannabis use. In some cases, cannabis use can result in bouts of sadness or depression. However, it’s also important to look at the long-term mental health effects of cannabis consumption.

Research shows that regularly consuming high concentrations of THC comes with an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, and mental illnesses. This is why cannabis composition and dosage are so important. Without the right levels of THC, CBD, and terpenes, you could get caught in a vicious cycle of trying to treat your mental illness with cannabis, but only making it worse. It should be said that, in the event you ever feel that your current state of mental health is beyond your control, there is no shame or harm in reaching out to one of the numerous mental health services for guidance. Be it symptoms of psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, addiction, or even if you’re not sure what you’re feeling, maintaining your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Intentionality can also play a major role in whether or not cannabis triggers depression or another mental illness. For example, if you use cannabis to alleviate anxiety and you understand the composition and dosage you need to achieve this goal, you will be far less likely to consume too much and trigger an adverse mental episode. If you don’t know the best levels for you yet, consider microdosing cannabis with low-THC, high-CBD formulas, like Koan’s Calm Cordial. If you find that your local dispensary can’t keep Koan Cordials on the shelf, you can also order online and have them delivered right to your front door (California residents only).

We are experts in cannabis, but we are not physicians. Therefore, it’s extremely important to seek out professional help if you feel the onset or worsening of depression. While altering your cannabis intake could have a positive effect on your mental state, you should still speak to a doctor before making any major health decisions.

The bottom line

So, can cannabis make you depressed? Possibly.. However, if you can approach cannabis use with the correct intention and control both the composition and dosage, you are far less likely to experience symptoms of depression or other mental health issues. As a result, avoiding the onset of additional depression symptoms with cannabis is largely within your control. Fortunately, brands like Koan Cordials all but eliminate the burden of identifying reliably and accurately dosed cannabis, leaving you with the ability to focus on what matters most, achieving an enlightening relationship with an emphasis on your mental health.

This article is for informational purposes only and not to be used as medical advice. Please speak with a medical professional before making any changes to your diet, medications, or daily routine. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588070/
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7324885/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3182732/
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  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332004/
  • https://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20200910/more-are-turning-to-pot-when-depressed–but-does-it-help-or-harm
  • https://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/2017mjdepression.pdf
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6293461/
  • https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22213786/
Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy from the University of Georgia. It was during his time in school that he published his first written work. After serving as a casting director in the Atlanta film industry for two years, Matthew acquired TEFL certification and began teaching English abroad. In 2017, Matthew started writing for dozens of different brands across various industries. During this time, Matthew also built an online following through his film blog. If you’d like to learn more about Matthew, you can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his personal website!

5 Mental Health Uses for CBD

Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.

Steven Gans, MD is board-certified in psychiatry and is an active supervisor, teacher, and mentor at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Iuliia Bondar / Getty Images

The cannabis plant has been utilized for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. The plant contains more than 80 different compounds, which are known as cannabinoids. While tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the most abundant and is well-known for its psychoactive properties, the second-most found compound, cannabidiol (CBD) does not have psychoactive effects.  

There has been a growing interest in the potential mental health benefits of CBD in recent years. A 2019 research letter published by JAMA Network Open reported a significant increase in Internet searches for CBD in the United States. While search rates remained steady between 2004 and 2014, there was a 125.9% increase between 2016 and 2017. In April 2019 alone, there were 6.4 million Google searches for CBD information.  

While there have been a number of studies suggesting that CBD might mental health benefits, a recent comprehensive review found that support for this use was scant and that further investigation is needed to substantiate the purported benefits.  

There are a number of conditions that CBD is purported to help, although more research is needed to determine the potential effects and benefits of CBD. Some of the existing studies suggest that CBD holds promise in the treatment of a number of conditions including depression, anxiety, epilepsy, and sleep issues, among other things.

Epilepsy

CBD appears to have a range of benefits for neurologic disorders, including decreasing the frequency and severity of seizures. Some of these conditions, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), may not respond well to anti-seizure medications. Viral clips of CBD treatments effectively alleviating seizures were shared widely in social media in recent years, and research has supported the effectiveness of these treatments.

A large-scale study on the use of CBD in the treatment of pediatric epilepsy found that CBD reduced the frequency of seizures by more than 50% in 43% of the patients with Dravet syndrome. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a cannabis-derived medication containing CBD, Epidiolex, to treat certain childhood seizure disorders.

Anxiety

Anxiety is a common problem for many people. Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 19.1% of U.S. adults each year. Some studies suggest that CBD may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety. One study look at the possible neural basis for CBD reducing symptoms of social anxiety disorder.

A 2015 study published in the journal Neurotherapeutics analyzed the existing preclinical studies on the use of CBD for anxiety and found that CBD was effective for a number of anxiety conditions including:

However, the authors of the study note that while the substance has considerable potential, further research is needed to better determine the therapeutic benefits and long-term effects.

Depression

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression is one of the most common mental disorders in the U.S., affecting an estimated 17.3 million adults each year. Effective treatments are available, which include psychotherapy and medication, although interest in complementary and alternative treatments has also grown in recent years.

CBD has been investigated for having potential antidepressant effects. Some antidepressants work by acting on serotonin receptors in the brain. Low serotonin levels may play a role in the development of depression, and animal studies suggest that CBD might have an impact on these receptors which may produce antidepressant effects.

A 2018 study found that the antidepressant-like effects that CBD produces depend upon the serotonin levels in the brain. Cannabidiol does not appear to increase serotonin levels but instead affects how the brain responds to serotonin that is already present in your body.

Sleep Difficulties

Because CBD may have a calming effect, it may also hold promise in treating sleeping difficulties. Sleep is a critical component of mental health and well-being, yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a third of U.S. adults do not get the recommended amount of sleep each night. This is problematic since not getting enough sleep is linked to health conditions such as depression, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

One study conducted with adults who had symptoms of anxiety and poor sleep found that 65% experienced improvements in sleep quality scores after a month of taking an average of 25mg of CBD daily, although those scores fluctuated over time. Further research is needed to determine the possible effects of CBD on sleep.

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD affects approximately 6.1% of U.S. adults. It is characterized by symptoms including re-experiencing traumatic events, intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and avoidance of things that may trigger memories of the trauma.

Some research suggests that CBD may be helpful in reducing the symptoms of this condition. In one study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, researchers found that an oral dose of CBD in addition to routine psychiatric treatment for PTSD was associated with a reduction in symptoms.  

Should You Try CBD?

While CBD holds promise, a recent comprehensive review of the research suggests that support for the mental health uses of CBD remains insufficient. This 2019 study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry and looked at 83 studies on the use of CBD to treat mental illness.

The researchers looked specifically at six different disorders: depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychosis. The review examined previous studies dating from 1980 through 2018.

The review concluded that there is not enough evidence to support the use of CBD in the treatment of mental health conditions.

The study did find that pharmaceutical TCH (either with or without CBD) was linked to small improvements in symptoms of anxiety among people with other medical conditions such as chronic pain and MS, although this evidence was considered low-quality.

This does not mean that CBD isn’t necessarily effective; of the studies reviewed, most only included a small number of participants, followed participants for a short period of time, and less than half were randomized controlled trials.

Instead, this study suggests that there simply isn’t yet enough high-quality evidence to support the use of CBD to treat mental conditions. This may change in the future as more research is carried out.

Many experts remain optimistic that CBD may prove useful for a range of mental health conditions. “CBD has shown therapeutic efficacy in a range of animal models of anxiety and stress, reducing both behavioral and physiological (e.g., heart rate) measures of stress and anxiety,” suggested Nora D. Volkow, the Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse in testimony presented to the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

Types

CBD is available in a number of different forms and products. Cannabidiol can be extracted from both hemp and marijuana plants, which differ in terms of how much CBD and THC can be extracted.

CBD from hemp plants contains only small amounts of THC that are not sufficient to produce subjective psychoactive effects. CBD produced from marijuana plants, however, may contain varying amounts of THC which can produce unwanted effects.

There are also three main types of CBD available.

  • Isolate contains only CBD
  • Full-spectrum contains other compounds found in the cannabis plant, including THC
  • Broad-spectrum contains other compounds from the cannabis plant but not THC

People may choose to take a full-spectrum product because research has shown that when cannabinoids including THC and CBD are taken together, it magnifies the therapeutic impact, a phenomenon known as the entourage effect. Research also suggests that CBD can actually counteract the negative effects caused by THC.

Like full-spectrum CBD, products labeled as broad-spectrum contain multiple cannabinoids, which are purported to provide the therapeutic benefits of the entourage effect without the psychoactive effects of THC.

Some of the ways that CBD can be used include:

  • Oral: This includes oils (which are made by infusing cannabidiol with a carrier oil), oil tinctures (which are produced by combining CBD with alcohol or water), sprays, and capsules.
  • Topical: This includes salves or lotions that are applied to the skin
  • Edibles: This can include candies, gummies, and beverages.
  • Inhaled: Some CBD oils are specially formulated to be used as vaping oil, although there has been an increase in concern about the health dangers posed by vaping.

Topical solutions may produce localized effects, but only those taken by mouth are likely to produce any mental health effects. It is important to note that while there is a wide variety of these products available on the market, the FDA has not approved any over-the-counter (OTC) CBD product. Many of these products may vary in terms of what they contain, their potency, and their effectiveness.

It is also important to note that while hemp-derived CBD that contains less than 0.3% THC is legal by federal law, it is still illegal in some states. You should always check your state laws before purchasing a CBD product.

Possible Side Effects

While CBD may have some benefits, it is also important to consider some of the possible risks. Research suggests that CBD appears to be well-tolerated at doses up to 600mg.  

While CBD appears to be well-tolerated, that does not mean that it is without side effects. While these may vary depending on the individual, some reported side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Mood changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness

However, understanding the potential side effects is difficult because of the absence of regulation and manufacturing guidelines, which means that there is a lack of consistency in terms of purity and labeling. In other words, it is difficult to determine if the side effects are the same across different products, formulations, and dosages because it is often difficult to determine exactly what is in the products that are currently on the market.

Potential Pitfalls

It is important to talk to your doctor if you are thinking about taking CBD products. This is particularly true if you have an existing medical or psychiatric condition, or if you are currently taking any medications or supplements.

CBD may potentially have an effect on your condition or may interact with a medication that you are taking. For example, CBD can sometimes worsen symptoms of anxiety. CBD can also interfere with the metabolism of certain medications, which may change how your medications affect your body.

Some other concerns to consider before taking CBD:

  • Drug testing: There have been reports of people failing drug tests after using CBD products that are labeled as containing no THC. While most CBD products contain only trace amounts of THC, there is still the possibility that these products may produce a positive result on a drug test. It is also important to remember that full-spectrum CBD products do contain varying amounts of THC.  
  • Mislabeling: Labeling accuracy also appears to be a common problem. One study found that almost 70% of CBD products sold online were mislabeled and contained significant amounts of THC.   This can be problematic if you are taking CBD to address a mental health condition such as anxiety, since THC may have unwanted psychoactive effects. Mislabeling may also lead to positive drug test results, especially if the product contains more THC than it claims.
  • Other possible risks: Finally, it is important to remember that researchers still do not know all the possible risks or benefits of taking CBD. More research is needed to learn about the mental and physical long-term effects of CBD, so you should always use caution and consult your doctor before using it.

A Word From Verywell

If you are experiencing the symptoms of a mental health condition, you should talk to a doctor or mental health professional. Self-medicating with CBD or other supplements can lead to delays in treatment, which may cause your symptoms to worsen. CBD also has the potential to aggravate some symptoms such as anxiety, sleep problems, and psychosis.

If you are still interested in trying CBD as an addition to your regular treatment, work with a healthcare provider who can help monitor your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend a product and dosage that is appropriate based on your symptoms and any medications you are taking. Always be sure to watch out for any potential negative side effects and be sure to talk to your doctor before you stop taking CBD.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.

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By Kendra Cherry
Kendra Cherry, MS, is an author and educational consultant focused on helping students learn about psychology.

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