Can CBD Oil Make You Feel Depressed

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Some people believe CBD oil is safe and well-tolerated. Read about the side effects you can expect and what to be aware 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 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.

7 CBD Oil Side Effects You Should Watch Out For

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CBD oil is believed to be generally safe and well-tolerated, but it is not free of side effects. Read on to learn which adverse effects you should watch out for when using CBD oil, how the delivery form influences them, and what you can do to reduce your risk.

CBD Oil Side Effects

First, it is important to remember that CBD oil is considered experimental and investigational and far more clinical studies are needed before we can make any firm conclusions about its supposed benefits [1].

Similarly, it’s an insufficiently investigated supplement with a relatively unknown safety profile. The list of side effects listed in this article is, therefore, not a definite one.

So, make sure to speak with your doctor before starting on a CBD oil regimen.

With the recent legalization of CBD oil in many states worldwide, its popularity is booming and people are taking it for not only its FDA-approved use for seizures, but also conditions such as [2]:

An advantage of CBD oil is that it’s considered generally safer and causes fewer adverse effects than the drugs typically used for these conditions. Chronic doses of up to 1500 mg/day were tolerated well in multiple studies [3+, 4].

Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t cause behavioral and psychological side effects. What’s more, it may even reduce some of them such as anxiety, psychosis, and memory loss [5, 6, 7, 8].

CBD oil is believed to cause fewer side effects than THC and most prescription drugs, even at high doses.

Nevertheless, there are some potential side effects of CBD oil that you should watch out for. Below is a detailed overview of the most common ones.

1) Dry Mouth

Whether you use them for recreational or medicinal purposes, cannabis products will often make your mouth feel as if it were stuffed with cotton balls. Almost 12% of 1500 people responding to a survey about CBD use experienced dry mouth, making it the most common adverse effect [2].

Stimulation of the CB1 and CB2 receptors in the salivary glands reduces saliva secretion, which makes the mouth feel dry. The well-known cannabis compound THC activates these receptors directly. In turn, CBD raises the levels of an activator naturally produced in the body – the cannabinoid anandamide [9, 10, 11, 12].

2) Digestive Issues

Both CBD oil supplements and the FDA-approved CBD medicine Epidiolex have been reported to cause digestive issues such as [2, 4]:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased or reduced appetite
  • Weight loss or gain

Because preliminary research suggests that CBD improves rather than causes nausea and diarrhea, these effects most likely result from the irritating effects of other ingredients (e.g., carrier oils) on the bowels [13, 14, 15].

Alternatively, the loose regulation of supplements may allow for excessive CBD levels in products or harmful contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, and solvents [16+, 17].

In turn, the endocannabinoid system has a role in promoting appetite. The mixed effects of CBD on appetite and weight seen in different studies may be due to its dual effect: it blocks the CB1 and CB2 receptors but boosts the levels of their activator anandamide [18, 19, 11].

If you experience digestive issues from using CBD oil, tell your doctor. He or she may recommend reducing the dose or shifting to another brand.

Contaminants and additives are likely responsible for the digestive side effects of low-quality CBD oil: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and appetite and weight changes.

3) Drowsiness and Fatigue

People taking CBD oil often report feeling sleepy and tired. Indeed, this side effect was observed in early clinical trials and one of the most common uses of CBD oil is to improve sleep disorders [20+].

If the symptoms are very severe, you shouldn’t drive or operate heavy machinery.

The effect of CBD on sleep seems to be biphasic: high doses may increase sleeping time, lower amounts may promote wakefulness. Additionally, levels of endocannabinoid receptors depend on the circadian rhythm. This may explain why CBD tends to cause drowsiness later in the day but has the opposite effect in the morning [21, 22, 23].

CBD oil may make you feel sleepy, especially if you take high doses at night. Low morning doses, on the contrary, seem to increase wakefulness.

4) Dizziness

High doses of CBD lowered blood pressure in a small trial on 9 people. In turn, THC seems to have a more complex effect: it slightly raises blood pressure in people lying down but increases the risk of sudden blood pressure drops when standing up [24, 25+].

As a result, a common adverse effect of CBD – both alone and with equal amounts of THC (nabiximols) – is feeling dizzy and light-headed [26, 27, 28].

If your blood pressure drops too much, you may faint. The risk is especially high in people diagnosed with low blood pressure or on blood pressure medications – such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors, and beta-blockers. These people should be especially cautious with CBD oil and never try it out without discussing it with their doctor.

CBD oil, alone or with THC, may reduce blood pressure. This can make you feel dizzy and light-headed, especially if you are prone to blood pressure drops.

5) Possible Liver Damage

Several trials testing CBD for seizures found possible liver damage (high transaminases ALT and AST) in 9-25% of the people. The risk increased with the dose and was highest in people also taking the anti-seizure drug valproate, which is known to cause liver injuries [29+, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34].

Similarly, CBD caused signs of liver toxicity (high transaminases, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin) in mice and dogs. However, the doses were generally higher than those used in human trials [35, 36, 37].

Make sure to talk to your doctor, especially if you are taking valproate, and never exceed the recommended CBD oil dose to reduce your risk of liver damage.

CBD oil may cause liver damage at very high doses and in people prescribed the anti-seizure drug valproate.

6) Irritability

CBD is often used to curb anxiety, although research suggests it has “inverted U-shaped” effects: moderate doses, but not low or high amounts, may be effective for a range of anxiety disorders and stressful situations [38, 39].

In contrast, very high doses may even trigger anxiety and irritability. This was the case in 7-9% of the children in 2 clinical trials using CBD for seizures and autism [40, 41].

The effect probably involves the TRPV1 receptor, the activation of which increases the brain’s response to stressful situations [42].

CBD boosts the naturally-produced cannabinoid anandamide. While moderate anandamide levels activate CB1 receptors and curb anxiety, high amounts may worsen it by binding to TRPV1. CBD also activates this receptor directly, further contributing to the potential anxiety-triggering effects [43, 44, 11, 45].

7) Immune Suppression

CBD may reduce the immune response. It prevents T cells from dividing, migrating to inflammation sites, and producing pro-inflammatory cytokines. This may be beneficial in people with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or multiple sclerosis [46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52].

The downside of blocking the immune response is that it may make people with weakened immune systems more prone to infections. Thus, people on immunosuppressants or with conditions such as HIV, diabetes, and Down syndrome might want to avoid it [53].

CBD oil seems to reduce the immune response, which may make people with a weak immune system more prone to infections.

Kidney Health

CBD didn’t damage the kidneys in clinical trials. In fact, researchers believed it protected against kidney injury and inflammation in numerous animal studies [54, 55, 56, 57, 58]. Remember that larger and better designed clinical trials are needed before these findings are conclusive.

Though more clinical trials are needed, the current evidence suggests CBD oil will not harm your kidneys at normal doses.

On the other hand, people with kidney disease should probably avoid THC-containing medical marijuana without consulting a doctor.

According to a recent review, THC may worsen kidney health and increase urination by activating CB1 receptors. Remember that, unlike THC, CBD blocks these receptors. However, CBD may indirectly activate them by increasing anandamide levels in the body [59+].

Lastly, avoid synthetic cannabinoids at all costs (products like “spice” and “K2” sold in smoke shops). These chemicals caused sudden and severe kidney injury in several cases [59+].

Unlike THC and synthetic cannabinoids, CBD oil probably does not cause side effects on the kidneys; some researchers believe it might even be protective.

Are You at Risk of CBD Oil Side Effects?

Risk Populations

CBD altered the levels of two drug transporters in placental cells. This suggests that taking CBD oil during pregnancy may increase the exposure of the fetus to any drugs that the mother takes. Pregnant women should avoid CBD oil in any case, since safety data are lacking [60].

Taking THC-containing CBD oil during pregnancy and breastfeeding is particularly dangerous, since THC may reduce growth and cause brain developmental anomalies in babies [61+].

Because there are no studies testing its safety in children below 2 years old, it’s better to avoid giving them CBD oil unless prescribed by a doctor.

CBD is thought to be safe in older children, but they may be more sensitive to THC and toxic contaminants such as heavy metals and pesticides than adults. Be sure to use high-quality, THC-free CBD in children and consult the doctor first.

Pregnant women and children under 2 years old should avoid CBD oil due to the lack of safety data; THC during pregnancy is known to be dangerous.

Drug Interactions

Most drugs are broken down by liver enzymes. Among them, cytochrome (CYP) P450 plays a key role. A single CBD dose blocks several CYP enzymes, such as:

By doing so, it may slow the breakdown of several drugs and enhance their effects [62, 63, 64, 65, 66].

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Indeed, CBD reduced the breakdown of the sedative hexobarbital, the anti-seizure drug clobazam, and the blood thinner warfarin in humans. It had the same effect on the immunosuppressant cyclosporin and the cannabis compound THC in cells [67, 68, 69, 70].

On the other hand, repeated CBD doses can increase the levels of some enzymes of this group and reduce the effects of the drugs they break down [71, 72, 73, 74].

Plus, CBD itself is broken down by CYP enzymes, especially by CYP34A and CYP2C19. Drugs that block these enzymes (such as ketoconazole and ritonavir) will enhance its effects, while those that activate them (such as phenobarbital and rifampicin) will have the opposite effect [75, 4].

If you are on prescription medication and plan to use CBD oil, ask your doctor about potential interactions and dose readjustment. Additionally, avoid combining CBD oil with grapefruit or other supplements that block the same liver enzymes (such as St John’s wort or watercress).

CBD oil can block or activate liver enzymes that metabolize drugs. This may increase the side effects of both CBD oil and the medication you’re taking.

How Does the Delivery Form Influence CBD Oil Side Effects?

While rapid-release forms (mouth sprays and oil tinctures) deliver CBD directly into your bloodstream, slow-release forms (capsules, edibles, and teas) have to pass your digestive system first. This means their ingredients may irritate your bowels and give you nausea and diarrhea [76+, 77].

However, rapid-release forms will release CBD faster, so you may experience both wanted and unwanted effects sooner [76+, 77].

And since tinctures and sprays are directly applied in the mouth, they will quickly reach the salivary glands and cause dry mouth. Mouth sprays may also cause a stinging sensation and even burns, especially if they contain alcohol [9, 78].

Capsules and edibles are more likely to cause digestive side effects, while mouth sprays and tinctures more frequently cause dry mouth.

Vapes

Vapes bypass the digestive system without irritating your bowels, but they may trigger the other adverse effects faster [76+, 77].

Vaping is considered safer than smoking cigarettes or joints because the oil is heated at lower temperatures that produce fewer toxic byproducts [76+ 79].

However, the additives used as flavorings and thinning agents in vaping oils may still pose some hazards. Although they are normally food-grade, they may release harmful compounds (including the cancer-causing formaldehyde) when vaporized. Their heavy use may lead to [80, 79, 81+]:

  • Cough
  • Dry throat
  • Lung injury
  • Fat particles entering the lungs (lipoid pneumonia – rare)

For instance, one man developed severe lung damage from vaping CBD oil [82+].

Creams & Gels

Creams and gels act locally on the application site and don’t release CBD into the gut or bloodstream. This means they will not cause most of the adverse effects previously described [76+].

However, they may cause allergic reactions with itching, redness, and rashes on the skin. It’s important to note that the reactions can be caused by either CBD or other ingredients in the formulation [83+, 84+].

How to Reduce Your Risk of Side Effects from CBD Oil

1) Drink More Water

The best way to reduce dry mouth when using CBD oil is to drink plenty of water and other hydrating liquids before, during, and after consumption.

2) Find Additive-Free Products

You can reduce the risk of digestive issues by choosing forms that bypass the gut and directly release CBD into your bloodstream such as vapes, mouth sprays, and oil tinctures. High-quality oils without additives may also irritate your bowels less.

3) Take it Before Sleep

If you feel drowsy or light-headed after taking CBD oil, you may need to reduce the dose or take it only before sleep.

4) Increase Wakefulness Naturally

Drinking coffee or tea will help you both stay awake and raise your blood pressure, but it also causes many side effects. Try to get more sunlight first thing in the morning, as it will energize you and help you get better sleep at night. We talk about other natural ways to increase wakefulness in this post.

5) Support Your Liver

Avoid combining CBD with the anti-seizure drug valproate. Additionally, make sure not to exceed the dose and regularly monitor your liver function to reduce your risk of liver damage. Eggs (choline), artichokes, NAC, and probiotics also support liver health. Read more foods and supplements that are good for the liver here.

6) Don’t Take Megadoses

Only very high CBD doses may cause irritability. Make sure not to exceed the dose and try reducing it if you notice this symptom.

7) Monitor Your Immune Response

If you have a weakened immune system, you should consult your doctor before taking CBD oil. You may need to avoid CBD or take a lower dose.

Additionally, you may also want to look into balancing your Th1/Th2 immune response. If you have a slightly weaker immune system and are prone to allergies, you are probably Th2-dominant.

To reduce your risk of CBD oil side effects, avoid products with additives, drink plenty of water, get sunlight during the day, and support your liver and gut health.

Takeaway

Always make sure to speak with your physician before starting on a CBD oil regimen.

CBD oil is thought to be safe and most people seem to tolerate it well.

Low-quality products may contain additives and toxins that can irritate the lungs when vaped and the gut when taken orally. Choose high-quality products to reduce your risk.

Additionally, CBD oil can make you feel drowsy and lightheaded. If you feel tired after taking CBD oil, lower your dose or use it only before sleep. Look to also increase your wakefulness naturally by getting more sunlight during the day.

High doses may damage the liver, but likely only in people taking the anti-seizure medication valproate. Monitor your liver enzymes and look into natural ways to protect your liver.

Avoid CBD oil if you have a weak immune system, as it might make you more prone to infection.

If you take prescription drugs, consult your doctor. Many drugs can interact with CBD oil and increase the risk of side effects.

Pregnant women and children should avoid CBD oil until more safety data are available.

Some people have genes that make them more likely to experience inflammation. Check out SelfDecode’s Inflammation DNA Wellness Report for genetic-based diet, lifestyle, and supplement tips that can help reduce inflammation levels. The recommendations are personalized based on YOUR DNA.

About the Author

Carlos Tello

Carlos spent 9 years in the laboratory investigating mineral transport in plants. He then started working as a freelancer, mainly in science writing, editing, and consulting. Carlos is passionate about learning the mechanisms behind biological processes and communicating science to both academic and non-academic audiences. He strongly believes that scientific literacy is crucial to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid falling for scams.

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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.

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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.

Leas EC, Nobles AL, Caputi TL, Dredze M, Smith DM, Ayers JW. Trends in Internet Searches for Cannabidiol (CBD) in the United States. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(10):e1913853. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.13853

Black N, Stockings E, Campbell G, Tran LT, Zagic D, Hall WD, et al. Cannabinoids for the treatment of mental disorders and symptoms of mental disorders: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Psychiatry. 2019;6(112):P995-1010. doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30401-8

Devinsky O, Cross JH, Laux L, et al. Trial of cannabidiol for drug-resistant seizures in the Dravet Syndrome. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(21):2011‐2020. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1611618

National Institute of Mental Health. Any anxiety disorder

Blessing EM, Steenkamp MM, Manzanares J, Marmar CR. Cannabidiol as a potential treatment for anxiety disorders. Neurotherapeutics. 2015;12(4):825‐836. doi:10.1007/s13311-015-0387-1

National Institute of Mental Health. Major depression.

Sales AJ, Crestani CC, Guimarães FS, Joca SRL. Antidepressant-like effect induced by Cannabidiol is dependent on brain serotonin levels. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018;86:255‐261. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2018.06.002

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sleep and sleep disorders.

Shannon S, Lewis N, Lee H, Hughes S. Cannabidiol in anxiety and sleep: a large case series. Perm J. 2019;23:18‐041. doi:10.7812/TPP/18-041

Elms L, Shannon S, Hughes S, Lewis N. Cannabidiol in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder: a case series. J Altern Complement Med. 2019;25(4):392‐397. doi:10.1089/acm.2018.0437

Welty TE, Luebke A, Gidal BE. Cannabidiol: promise and pitfalls. Epilepsy Curr. 2014;14(5):250-2. doi:10.5698/1535-7597-14.5.250

Bonn-miller MO, Loflin MJE, Thomas BF, Marcu JP, Hyke T, Vandrey R. Labeling accuracy of cannabidiol extracts sold online. JAMA. 2017;318(17):1708-1709. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.11909

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.

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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.

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.

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