Is Medical Marijuana Valid for Depression?

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How can medicinal marijuana be used to treat depression? You must first understand what depression is. Depression is a mental illness that makes us sad, makes us lose interest in previously enjoyed things, withdraw from others, and feel tired. It’s not the same as sadness, despair, or a lack of vigour. Depression is a significant depressive condition that affects your emotions, moods, and mood and may lead to severe sadness and melancholy. To diagnose these diseases, a variety of depression symptoms have been identified. These signs and symptoms might range from moderate to severe.

The Symptoms of Depression:

  • Trouble concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and helplessness
  • Pessimism and hopelessness
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or sleeping too much
  • Crankiness or irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of interest in things once pleasurable
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Aches, pains, headaches, or cramps that won’t go away
  • Digestive problems that don’t get better, even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts

Understanding marijuana’s relationship with mental health is more crucial than ever as it becomes progressively destigmatized, if not decriminalized, throughout much of the nation. Certain strains of marijuana, according to medical marijuana proponents, may even be used to alleviate depression. 

Marijuana Constituents

Marijuana has two types of compounds that may have distinct effects on your depression:

  1. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive component of marijuana that gives you a buzz and makes it enticing for recreational usage.
  2. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-psychoactive component of cannabis that contributes to the plant’s pharmacological activities without causing a high; it is the component of the substance that has been researched for the treatment of depression.

Marijuana is also a neuroprotectant, promoting synapse formation and protecting cells from injury. This kind of communication may boost cognitive mind function and promote good habits that can aid in the fight against depression. CBD and THC have a calming effect that calms hyperactive neurons, which are considered the source of sadness. This contains the mind, making sadness and other progressively severe mental health illnesses such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, and psychosis easier to detect. A few studies demonstrate that excessive cannabis usage might cause depressive symptoms to worsen, but like with other cannabis-based medications, each patient’s experience is unique.

Is Medical Marijuana Effective for Depression?

Whether cannabis might help with depression has piqued experts’ curiosity in recent years. Despite the many disagreements that have emerged, the outcome is favourable since it has been discovered that marijuana includes a highly unique chemical known as THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which primarily functions as a psychoactive substance and has a strong effect on the brain. When searching for marijuana drugs for depression, it’s essential to consult with a mental health professional and try a few different approaches until you find the best one. 

Cannabinoids activate the endocannabinoid system, which increases serotonin levels in clinical depression patients. CBD is a non-psychoactive cannabinoid molecule that works to reduce anxiety and tension. THC’s euphoric properties may provide a happy feeling, which counteracts the gloomy thoughts that haunt those who suffer from depression. CBD and THC, through lowering pressure and enabling negative concept designs, may provide equivalent relief to most prescription antidepressants without the side effects. Pharmaceutical antidepressants may also take a long time to function. Still, most cannabis therapies operate much faster — consuming cannabis as edibles can provide relief in only a few hours, while the effects of smoking or inhaling cannabis begin to work almost immediately.

Research on Medical Marijuana for Depression

Researchers at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions discovered that endocannabinoids, associated with emotions of general well-being, activate the same receptors as many of the active components in marijuana in a February 2015 study.

The researchers discovered that the synthesis of endocannabinoids was lower under chronic stress than in standard settings in rats. They concluded that the compounds in cannabis might be effective in restoring regular endocannabinoid activity and relieving depressive symptoms.

In the short term, smoking cannabis may considerably lower self-reported levels of depression, according to research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. However, the researchers discovered that frequent usage did not result in any long-term alleviation of symptoms and, in some cases, may significantly aggravate depression over time.

Risks

According to several studies, marijuana users (particularly those who use it often or severely) are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those who do not. However, research has yet to prove a causal relationship: whether marijuana usage causes depression is unclear. Marijuana usage may trigger other mental diseases in persons who are predisposed to them, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. There’s also evidence that extensive marijuana usage in adolescence (especially among adolescent females) might predict sadness and anxiety later. With cannabis, certain persons are at risk of developing psychosis. Delusions, hallucinations, or both are common symptoms of substance-induced psychosis.

Patients may feel ostracized not just by their mental illness but also by their cannabis use. They may be hesitant to address it with their doctor for fear of being refused treatment or branded a drug abuser in need of therapy. Open talks regarding the patient’s cannabis usage between the psychiatrist and the patient may be helpful, mainly if the psychiatrist is amenable to learning about the perceived advantages of cannabis use.

A well-known condition is known as “amotivational syndrome” occurs when persons who use cannabis consistently and heavily become apathetic, socially reclusive, and operate at a level of daily functioning well below their capabilities before their marijuana usage.

According to previous research published in 2021, heavy marijuana use by teenagers and young adults with mental disorders — such as depression and bipolar illness — was associated with a higher risk of self-harm, suicide attempts, and mortality.

Conclusion

However, proving or disproving the use of medicinal marijuana and even loosening the prohibitions on its usage would almost certainly need a far greater body of reputable scientific study. If you suffer from depression and are contemplating medical marijuana as a therapy option, see your doctor first to examine the benefits and drawbacks. 

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