Can Medical Marijuana Help Those Suffering from Depression?
Many Missouri patients with a medical marijuana card are surprised to discover that cannabis can treat a myriad of medical symptoms and conditions. Research is ongoing, but studies are beginning to suggest that medical marijuana may be effective in helping those who suffer from depression.
Important Note: While we make every effort to ensure the information in our blog posts is up-to-date and accurate, this article is in no way meant to be taken as medical advice. If you are someone who suffers from depression, please consult a mental health professional before adding cannabis to your current treatment plan.
What Is Depression?
According to the World Health Organization, depression can be characterized as a “persistent sadness and a lack of interest or pleasure in previously rewarding or enjoyable activities.” Depression may also cause issues with sleep, appetite, and concentration.
Statistics provided by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimate that depression currently affects approximately 40 million adult Americans. Clinical depression is nothing to be ashamed of. There are a variety of factors that may lead to depression, including a combination of biological, psychological, and physical sources of distress.
Treatments for depression can vary. Common approaches include medication, talk therapy, or some combination of the two. Recently, medical marijuana has entered the conversation as legislation opened up the option for patients to utilize cannabis for medicinal purposes in a wider segment of the United States. Several studies suggest cannabis may be a treatment worth considering.
Can Medical Marijuana Help With Depression?
The medical community is in a stage of discovery when it comes to the proposition of marijuana for those who suffer from depression. As legal cannabis expands across the country, more research is being conducted. Several studies suggest marijuana may offer some of the healing effects of antidepressants without the array of negative side effects.
A study published by Frontiers in Psychology examined the effects of medical cannabis among those diagnosed with clinical depression, and found that their depressive symptoms decreased after marijuana use.
Another study, published by the University of New Mexico implied that “cannabis flower may be effective in providing immediate relief for the symptoms of depression.” The study states, “The findings suggest that, at least in the short term, the vast majority of patients that use cannabis experience antidepressant effects.”
A recent study from Washington State University found some patients discovered their depression decreased with just a single puff of marijuana. The immediate effects of THC found in marijuana stimulate relaxation and stimulation in a manner that could combat the negative feelings associated with depression.
While these studies are helpful for those looking for relief from clinical depression, it is important to remember that research is still ongoing. It is also important to note, most of these studies warn that cannabis, when used extensively, can actually have the reverse effect, causing depression to worsen. If you are using marijuana to alleviate depression, it is a good idea to speak to a medical professional in order to come up with a plan that can be adjusted depending on results.
What About Those Suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder?
As summer begins to wind down and autumn approaches, many cannabis patients might be wondering if medical marijuana can help with seasonal depression. Seasonal Affective Disorder is the medical term for seasonal depression. This is a type of clinical depression and is more severe than the winter blues. Depressive symptoms typically begin in the fall and last well into the winter months.
What Are the Causes of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Some of the reasons you may experience Seasonal Affective Disorder include a change in your circadian rhythm due to the decrease in sunlight during winter months. This can disrupt your body’s biological clock.
Reduced exposure to sunlight can also cause a decrease in your body’s serotonin and melatonin levels. Serotonin is a brain chemical, or neurotransmitter, that affects mood. A drop in mood levels may lead to depression. Melatonin also plays a major role in sleep patterns and overall mood.
What Are the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder?
According to The Mayo Clinic, the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder include:
A feeling of depression throughout the day, nearly every day
Decreased interest in activities you once enjoyed
Low energy levels
Changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness or guilt
Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
Seasonal Affective Disorder can also cause:
School or work problems
Other mental health disorders such as anxiety or eating disorders
Suicidal thoughts or behavior
How Can Medical Marijuana Help Seasonal Affective Disorder?
There is also a considerable amount of evidence that shows marijuana can help your overall wellbeing by promoting relaxation, helping you sleep better, and getting your body moving. With this knowledge, evidence suggests marijuana can be an effective treatment for Seasonal Affective Disorder.
The cannabinoids contained in medical marijuana can have a positive impact on your mood, with THC possibly increasing serotonin levels, and CBD helping to boost dopamine, thus creating an antidepressant effect.
Marijuana is also very effective at reducing pain. Combining this with the mood elevation that THC is known for, studies have shown that cannabis is a great tool to boost exercise - one of the greatest combatants of depression. Any level of physical movement - even going for a simple walk - increases the brain’s release of endocannabinoids, which are similar to THC, enhancing mood, increasing appetite, and lowering pain levels.
The Verdict on Depression and Marijuana
As research continues, the jury is still out on whether or not cannabis is a long-term solution for those who suffer from depression. As the effects of medical marijuana continue to be studied, we’ll have more definitive results.
In the meantime, if you are seeking an alternative to traditional antidepressant medications, cannabis could be an option worth considering. Of course, before beginning any course of treatment, you should take the time to discuss things with your doctor.
How Missouri Gets Relief
If you’re ready to experience the healing benefits that medical marijuana provides, relief isn’t far away. Our medical professionals are ready to take you through a quick evaluation to see if you qualify. Schedule an appointment with a marijuana doctor, or give us a call at (877) 303-3117 to talk to a patient support representative.
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Missouri Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (877) 303-3117, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!