How Does Medical Marijuana Help With and Treat Depression?

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Depression, which is commonly known as major depressive disorder is a feeling of severe despair over an extended period of time. Once an individual is depressed, nearly all aspects of his or her life can be affected, their daily emotions, work life, physical health, and relationships inclusive. According to DSM-5, a manual that is typically used to diagnose mental disorder, an individual is depressed if he or she shows at least five symptoms of depression within an interval of two weeks. Some of the most common symptoms of depression include a persistent feeling of worthlessness or guilt, a depressed mood for most parts of the day, especially in the mornings, fatigue or daily lack of energy, sleeping disorder, the feeling of restlessness, suicidal thoughts as well as the loss of interest or pleasure in many activities.

Like many other medical conditions, the treatment of depression has come a long way, with methods like psychotherapy and prescribed medications. The truth remains that when it comes to finding solutions for depression, the options are limited. This is so because depression could stem from a variety of risk factors including biological, social or psychological, even though the major cause of the condition is yet to be known. It is also worrying that most of the conventional methods of treating depression have been criticized. For instance, it may take weeks for patients on antidepressants to notice an improvement. Similarly, it has been statistically proven that one in every three people suffering from depression are unable to find relief, even after using antidepressants. According to a study that was published in June 2018 via the Journal of the American Medical Association, up to one third percent of Americans take medications linked to the side effects of prescribed medications against depression.

The creation of medical and recreational cannabis programs has resulted in expanded safe access and better education in self-medication, thereby making it possible for people who had previously used antidepressants to try out cannabis treatments. According to findings from a 2017 Canadian study, up to 63 percent of patients suffering from depression reported using medical marijuana as a substitute for prescription drugs including opioids, antidepressants as well as sedatives.

Scientists have also revealed that medical marijuana consists of two major compounds, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) which are linked to the treatment of depression. For people suffering from depression, CBD is considered non-psychoactive whereas THC is responsible for the psychological effects of marijuana. It is also imperative to note that recreational marijuana contains more THC rather than CBD and patients with depression are always advised to go for the strains of marijuana that have more CBD.

Researchers have also proven that the strains of marijuana that contain more CBD are a safer option when compared to THC, which can easily cause anxiety or even fear when consumed. The findings from a 2016 study by a Neuropharmacology revealed that CBD prompts antidepressant-like effects with instantaneous results. Meanwhile, findings from another study demonstrated a good interaction between CBD and receptors in the brain of humans.

A new study that was conducted at the Washington State University used the novel approach to ascertain if marijuana could improve the symptoms of depression. This study was conducted with data from many medical marijuana users from the Strainprint app, which makes it possible for the users to rate their physical or mental symptoms before and after smoking. The results from this study indicated that most users experienced positive effects, at least initially. Besides, the majority of the participants reported a before and after decrease in the severity of the symptoms of depression, stress and anxiety.

It has also been reported that some strains of marijuana are more effective in the treatment of depression. Thus, patients who are turning to cannabis for relief from depression are cautioned to opt for strains rich in terpenes and not just THC. Also, the strains of marijuana with high levels of beta caryophyllene (B-caryophyllene) and limonene are more effective in the treatment of depression. This is so because Beta caryophyllene imparts a stimulating, uplifting effect, whereas limonene has a crusty scent and taste, coupled with mood boosting properties. It is therefore evident that the strains of marijuana that are recommended for anxiety are always dominant in terpenes but less for depression especially where motivation may already be in short supply.

Even though CBD is often desired for its non-psychotropic effects, it can sometimes best work for some people when introduced with a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. It was revealed in an article published in 2017 via Cannabis Now that more balanced ratios (1:1 to 1:4) are helpful in the treatment of depression, whereas larger ratios (18:1 and higher) are instead exceptionally useful in the treatment of anxiety and anxiety causing disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

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Marijuana strains reported to help with Depression:

How To Get Medical Marijuana

If you are a resident of a legal state interested in trying medical marijuana to treat Depression or other medical conditions, you will first need to consult with a certified doctor in order to get a medical marijuana card. To get started, simply fill out the MMJ patient registration form, press submit and a physician or clinic representative will contact you as available.