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Kratom for Mental Health: Anxiety and Depression

A woman sips on a kratom beverage

Kratom use is on the rise throughout America. One emerging trend is new users hoping to use kratom for depression, anxiety, and other aspects of their mental health.

But is kratom a good option for self-managing depression and anxiety? In this blog, we examine all the available evidence to determine whether this new application is all it’s cracked up to be.

In short: while no human studies have been done on kratom and mental health treatment, available animal studies and anecdotal evidence show promise for positive mental health outcomes.

Here’s what the research has to say about kratom for depression, anxiety, and mental health.

The Most Important Section in This Article

Depression and anxiety are mental health issues with serious and even life-threatening implications. When it comes to your mental health, there are no simple solutions, and treatment should always be carried out according to the best science and under professional care.

Regardless of any potential for kratom to reduce the severity of mental health issues like depression and anxiety, unproven treatment methods like kratom should never be your primary treatment strategy, and they should never be undertaken without consulting a mental health professional.

Nothing in this article should be read as an endorsement of using kratom for depression independent of professional consultation. If you are interested in attempting to self-medicate for depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues, we urge you to discuss your decision with a licensed therapist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional.

Anecdotal Accounts Show Some Mental Health Applications

An increasing number of kratom users report taking kratom for depression and anxiety

According to such accounts, kratom might be able to benefit mental health by:

  • Reducing stress from work or other routine activities.
  • Providing temporary energy and enthusiasm.
  • Improving motivation and drive.
  • Improving general mood.

Formal surveys back these uses. For example, in a 2016 online survey conducted among 8,049 current kratom users, 58% reported use for self-treatment of a mental or emotional disorder. A similar online survey was conducted in 2019 and included 3,024 kratom users, 66.4% of whom reported anxiety or depression as one of the reasons for their kratom use.

Given that kratom can provide an energizing, even euphoric effect, it makes sense that certain strains and doses would be able to provide this sort of temporary relief. But does the research support such uses of kratom for mental health?

Kratom and Mental Health: What the Research Says

It’s important to note that very little research has been done on kratom’s effects on mental health. At the time of writing, virtually zero human studies have been conducted, but a handful of animal studies have been.

Animal Studies Show Promising Applications

The most concise overview of such animal studies was a literature review published in Focus: Plant-based Medicine and Pharmacology in 2020. The authors concluded that kratom, and especially its primary alkaloid mitragynine, “shows promise for the possible future use of kratom as an antidepressant and antipsychotic.”

Moreover, the report concluded, “Due to mitragynine’s affinity to dopamine and serotonin receptors, this compound shows significant promise as a lead drug or treatment for psychiatric disorders.”

Case Report on Human Kratom Use

Although no formal human studies have been conducted on kratom for mental health, a case report was published in 2021.

The case report focused on a single kratom user who had historically used kratom to self-manage symptoms of depression and anxiety. The user reported success with this treatment.

According to the case report, the patient had been taking kratom for seven years, using kratom 3-4 times daily, a practice which “worked efficiently as a self-management of his depression with no escalation of dosing”.

However, the kratom treatment reportedly stopped working following a major increase in stress related to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which led the patient to seek traditional treatment for his depression and anxiety.

The case study concludes with a somewhat half-hearted endorsement of kratom. The authors write that, “The present report may add evidence for long-term instrumentalization of Kratom for self-management of major depression and general anxiety disorder . . . It also evidences the boundaries of drug instrumentalization when environmental conditions change, such as during increased psychological stress in the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In short: kratom shows potential as a treatment method for depression and anxiety, but that potential appears to be limited in efficacy, and further research is undoubtedly needed.

Kratom for Mental Health, In Closing

More and more users are reporting taking kratom for mental health, and especially for treating their symptoms of depression and anxiety.

According to anecdotal reports, such use can offer meaningful relief from depression and anxiety.

Unfortunately, however, there’s very little in the way of research on kratom and mental health.

There have been limited animal studies, which do show some limited potential for kratom as a mental health tool. However, virtually zero human studies have been conducted.

Your mental health is too important to trust in unproven treatment options like kratom. You absolutely should not rely on kratom as your primary treatment method, and you should consult with a mental health professional before making it a part of your treatment regimen.