Does Weed Help With Depression?

One of the often-quoted use of medical cannabis is for depression. But does it work? 

More than 30 states in the US have legalized cannabis for medicinal use, and substantial controversy has erupted about which diseases should qualify patients for approved usage.

Depression is one of the most prominent conditions that has been mentioned (along with pain, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep, and others) to be treated with cannabis with positive results. But, the research is currently mixed.

How Does Cannabis Effect the Brain?

Depression and cannabis usage are frequently found together in patients, but researchers have yet to solve the chicken-and-egg dilemma of separating the two. Weed has two types of compounds, each of which may have different effects on your body:

CBD is one of many cannabinoids that can be found in hemp and cannabis plants. It’s non-intoxicating, which means that despite having psychoactive qualities, it won’t make you feel euphoric or “high”. This compound is part of the medication researched to treat depression. 

THC is the intoxicating cannabinoid. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the component of cannabis that gives you a buzz and is what makes it so enticing for recreational usage.

It’s crucial to distinguish between cannabis, THC, and CBD. While CBD is present in cannabis, the two are not synonymous. 

Why CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a component of the cannabis plant that contributes to its pharmacological effects without causing a high.

Researchers have discovered that endocannabinoids, associated with emotions of overall well-being, activate the same receptors as many of the active components in marijuana in a February 2015 study.

Can Weed Effect Depression?

In the short term, smoking cannabis can considerably reduce self-reported levels of depression. However, frequent use did not result in any long-term alleviation of symptoms and, in some cases, may significantly aggravate depression over time.

Although there is some evidence that marijuana has antidepressant qualities, many say there are some significant hazards to consider when using the medication to treat depression.

The Cons before the Pros

It can be easy to get swept up in the positive effects of cannabis, so we’re going to do a quick recap of some less than positive side effects of medical cannabis. 

A well-known phenomenon is “amotivational syndrome” which occurs when persons who use cannabis frequently and heavily become apathetic, socially disengage, and operate at a level of everyday functioning substantially below their capacity before their cannabis usage.

While there’s never a clear solution that will work for everyone, in many instances, keeping accountability with other people can help wean off dependency and get back to a level that is fun and safe. 

Unexpected Conditions

Cannabis usage may trigger the onset of other mental diseases in some people who are predisposed to them, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. There is also some evidence that extensive marijuana usage in adolescence (especially among teenage girls) can predict depression and anxiety later in life.

All is not lost! While it’s important to keep these factors in mind, research is unclear whether depression is caused directly by cannabis usage.

Cannabis’ Positive Effects 

For dealing with depressive episodes in the short term, CBD can help alleviate the weight of one’s emotions and allow the user to process a plan. The ability to relax during a stressful period of life is no small thing and CBD appears to interact positively with serotonin receptors in the brain in most studies.

Serotonin influences a variety of bodily functions, including a person’s emotional state and feelings of well-being or happiness. Keeping serotonin levels balanced is frequently a key therapy for people suffering from depression.

Using CBD For Depression

 Anxiety and depression are both highly treatable conditions. If you have — or suspect you have — an anxiety disorder or a depressive disorder, you should see a therapist or your primary care physician. They will be able to point you in the right direction, and together you will be able to determine the best treatment plan for you.

It’s best to consult with a cannabis-friendly doctor if you want to self-medicate with cannabis. It’s critical to tell your psychiatrist, primary care physician, and any other doctor who prescribes medication that you’re using cannabis.

Using CBD

Many people prefer to take CBD orally, in the form of tinctures, capsules, and oils. That may be because of how fast-acting they can be. When using CBD, the most effective benefits are when it’s used on a regular basis. 

CBD does not appear to pose a risk of addiction, so long-term use may be safe for most people.