Feeling helpless, hopeless and losing interest in activities are just a few markers of depression.
Whether you’ve just started feeling depressed or have tried treatments with no success, you may not have considered another alternative medication: medical cannabis.
In this post, we’ll discuss how and which types of cannabis can decrease depressive symptoms. If you want to learn how you may be able to treat your depression using medical marijuana.
Is Cannabis an antidepressant?
More research needs to be done to fully understand how cannabis affects depression. However, the current research is promising.
A 2007 study concluded that cannabis modulates mood and has “antidepressant-like properties.”
The cannabinoid—or chemical compound—THC was found to increase serotonin levels in rats. Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical that helps control mood. In fact, many pharmaceutical antidepressants work to increase serotonin levels.
THC also activates CB1 receptors in the brain. The activation of CB1 receptors has been associated with antidepressant effects.
Since this area of research is relatively new, experts need more information to determine how specific doses affect depression. For example, a 2014 review of research found that some studies linked heavy cannabis use to an increased risk of depression. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that chronic marijuana use worsens or leads to depression. According to researchers, it could be that depressed people are more likely to use marijuana in the first place (i.e. self-medicating).
When considering cannabis as a treatment option, it’s worth noting how traditional treatments stack up. Some pharmaceutical antidepressants are more effective than others. Still, up to a third of depressed patients aren’t helped after several attempts with antidepressants. In addition, many antidepressants also come with negative side effects.
CBD & Depression
CBD—another cannabinoid—is a non-psychoactive option that won’t give you the traditional marijuana “high,” but may still fight depression/ depressive symptoms.
A 2014 review of research concluded that CBD can act as an antidepressant. Another 2016 study showed that the chemical can reduce depressive symptoms rapidly.
Research also shows that CBD can help treat anxiety. For some people, treating anxiety can help reduce depression. For example, if anxiety is causing you to avoid situations and isolate yourself, you can become depressed. By treating your anxiety, you may feel more connected and thus, less depressed.
Similarly, CBD also helps counteract THC-induced anxiety, a side effect some people experience when they take high doses. For this reason, strains high in CBD may work best for some patients.
How You Can Treat Depression with Medical Marijuana?
It’s critical to have a doctor when treating depression with cannabis because they can monitor your progress.
When a person gets prescribed a pharmaceutical antidepressant, their doctor will work with them to find the correct type and dosage of medication. While one type and dose can make a patient feel worse, another may work wonders. As with any medicine, marijuana can have varying effects on different people. A doctor can help you find which medicine works best and provided you with the ongoing support and monitoring needed to be successful with medical cannabis.
There are also different types of depression, such as postpartum depression, which are treated differently. Your doctor can assess which type of depression you have and match you with an appropriate strain and dose. In addition, he or she may recommend that you couple medical marijuana with psychotherapy for the most effective treatment.
Many patients report less depressive symptoms when using medical marijuana.
However, the dose, strain and quality of cannabis matter. There are too many variables to self-medicate effectively, which is why we recommend medical treatment.
We get what you’re going through and we want to help. Try speaking with one of our caring and knowledgeable doctors. Book a no-obligation consultation today.