Cannabis as an Antidepressant

Benefits for Anxiety and Depression

Cannabis as an Antidepressant: Benefits for Anxiety and Depression
Reading Time: 5 minutes

When you are battling anxiety and depression, you want something that helps quickly and safely. There are many treatments available, including medications such as antidepressants and counseling. A more holistic approach is using cannabis as an antidepressant. According to users and some research, marijuana may have several benefits to ease anxiety and depression symptoms.

Types of Depression

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “depression is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think, and how you act.”

To be diagnosed with a major depressive disorder, many symptoms must be present for at least two weeks, frequently occurring during that time. You must have one of the two main symptoms. The first one is feeling stressed on most days, and the second one is the loss of interest in activities that you usually enjoy. 

Other Common Symptoms of Depression Include

  • Weight loss or gain
  • Sleeping too much or not being able to sleep
  • Restlessness or agitation
  • Feeling sluggish mentally and physically
  • Not being able to concentrate or make decisions
  • Lack of energy and motivation
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Thoughts of suicide or death

Major depressive disorders include subcategories of different types of depression that are listed as follows.  

A persistent depressive disorder is a chronic depression that lasts longer than two years. Dysthymia (low-grade persistent depression) and chronic major depression are the names used before persistent depressive disorder. 

Bipolar Disorder (BPD) is formerly known as a manic depressive disorder.  The main symptoms are mood episodes with extreme highs to extreme lows. The lows are major depressive disorder episodes. 

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a common depression during the winter months, most frequently diagnosed in northern parts of the country. The disorder is generally caused by shorter days with a lack of sufficient sunlight. 

Psychotic depression is a severe disorder that has the same symptoms as major depression. These include hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia.

Post-partum depression is also known as peripartum depression. This type of depression is common among women who suffer from major depression after giving birth. 

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a depression caused by the hormonal changes in a woman at the start of her period. Symptoms are the same as major depression with some additions, such as mood swings, irritability, and anxiety. 

A typical depression is a pattern of depression symptoms. With this condition, a positive event can temporarily reduce the sad feelings.

There are a variety of treatments for depression such as antidepressant medications or cannabis. The type of treatment used depends on the patient’s diagnosis, the severity of the disorder, and physical health.

One treatment method that may help relieve symptoms of depression is medical marijuana. With the legalization of its use, in 33 states, including West Virginia, more qualified doctors are prescribing West Virginia medical marijuana cards. The cards help patients to be able to purchase and use the substance to treat their depression.

Does Cannabis Help?

Medical marijuana helps to relieve some of the symptoms of depression. Often the medical marijuana that is prescribed by doctors has a high level of CBD and low to zero levels of THC.  It doesn’t give the user a high. Properties in the CBD are recognized to reduce pain, inflammation, and nausea and relieve feelings of sadness without the psychoactive effect THC has. 

Most studies have been inconclusive on the effectiveness of cannabis as an antidepressant. One recent study on ScienceDirect reported users felt that marijuana significantly reduced their symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. The results showed users felt that cannabis strains with low THC and high CBD levels were the best for lowering their depression symptoms. A combination of high THC and low CBD levels were best for lessening their stress levels. 

The study also reported that there might be a correlation between cannabis and depression. When a person uses cannabis to treat depression, over time, it may make it worse. 

Currently, there is research concerning the long-term use of marijuana. The question researchers are working on is cannabis a depressant itself? There is a higher correlation of depression in marijuana users than non-users. Researchers are trying to determine if cannabis causes depression or if the users have depression and are self-medicating with marijuana. 

Cannabis for Panic and Anxiety

In the same study, the participants reported that they perceived that cannabis reduced their anxiety and stress by 58%. The chemicals in marijuana that bind to cannabinoid receptors in the brain can reduce stress due to panic, anxiety, and stress symptoms. This causes euphoric-effect or high feeling. 

Does Cannabis Use Have Any Side-Effects?

Although cannabis use appears to be safe in general, there are some side effects to take into consideration. The most apparent disadvantage is smoking the substance. Like cigarettes, smoking marijuana can cause lung diseases such as lung cancer and emphysema. 

Marijuana use may cause rapid heartbeat, raise blood pressure, and increase a heart attack risk. It may also weaken the immune system, reducing the body’s ability to fight infections.

Pregnant women and those breastfeeding are cautioned not to use marijuana. The substance can pass through the placenta during pregnancy and through breast milk during breastfeeding. This can cause abnormalities in the fetus and slowed development in babies. 

The use of Indica strains may interact or lessen the effect of certain medications. Due to its sedating effects, it is preferable not to use marijuana with sedatives. Using marijuana with Antabuse or Prozac can cause excessive nervousness and the inability to sleep. 

Cannabis use affects different people in different ways. Whether you are using it to reduce your depression and anxiety or for recreational use, always be mindful of how it makes you feel. 

If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression, anxiety, or panic, it’s best to contact your doctor before self-medicating. With the legalization of medical marijuana, many doctors can prescribe cannabis for you as an antidepressant.

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Written by Rebecca Akers

Rebecca Akers is an enthusiastic and creative writer at THC Design. Her main goal is to spread information about growing cannabis and its health benefits.

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