Cannabinoids and Depression

Depression is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a mood disorder, transient or permanent, characterized by the loss of ability to enjoy or show interest and/or pleasure in normal activities (anhedonia). Other symptoms which can frequently appear within the illness can be anxiety, stress, anorexy, insomnia, psychomotor problems and cognitive failures.

Its exact cause is unknown and it affects more than 350 million people in the world. This disease, in its most critical state, can lead to suicide, a situation that according to WHO, affects more than 90% of countries and whose mortality rate is the second largest among 15-29 year olds.

There are alterations in certain physiological functions that occur in depression. For example, there are changes in magnetic resonance imaging of the brain of a person with depression that differ significantly from patients who do not suffer from this disease. In a person with depression, there is an imbalance in the activation of certain brain areas. It seems that the areas in charge of mood, behavior, thought and appetite do not function normally. In addition, important neurotransmitters and chemicals necessary for correct functioning are harmed, affecting our brain at the cellular level, since cells cannot communicate with each other normally.

The activation of the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in the regulation of mood disorders or depression. For this reason, the possible effects of cannabinoids on both humans and animals have been investigated on several occasions.

Treatment for depression cannabis medicinal | Kalapa Clinic

Effects of Cannabinoids

  • Anxiolytic
  • Help for the endocannabinoid system
  • Antidepressant


The anti-depressive effect offered by cannabinoids and its support in the cannabinoid system are key elements to have results on people that display depressive symptoms like stress, anxiety and insomnia.

The action of Cannabinoids can alleviate some Symptoms of the Depression

According to studies carried out by Mangieri R. (2008), rodents modified to suffer from depression, showed to have altered levels of endogenous cannabinoids and cannabinoid CB1 receptors, involving this system as a possible etiologic cause of depression. When the signalling of the cannabinoid receptor was improved, there was an improvement in the symptoms associated with the disease. [1]

On the other hand, Jiang W (2005) considers cannabinoids as the only illicit drug capable of promoting neurogenesis in the hippocampus after its chronic administration. This increase in the neurogenesis seems to have an association with the anxiolytic-antidepressant effects similar to those produced by a high dose of treatment with HU210 (a synthetic cannabinoid). [2]

If you are already following a treatment for depression, and you are looking for complementary help, so you can use cannabinoids to palliate some of the symptoms of the disorder: anxiety, stress, lack of appetite or insomnia.

Although much remains to be investigated, the properties of cannabinoids appear to be an interesting alternative in the design of future therapies to cope with certain types of depression.

Bibliography of cannabinoids and depression

[1] Animal research highlights a therapeutic potential of cannabinoids for the treatment of depression. Regina A. Mangieri Department of Pharmacology, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. Cannabinoids 2008;3(2):4-7

[2] Wen Jiang, Yun Zhang, Lan Xiao, Jamie Van Cleemput, Shao-Ping Ji, Guang Bai, Xia Zhang. Cannabinoids promote embryonic and adult hippocampus neurogenesis and produce anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects.

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