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Medical Marijuana and Mood Disorders

Everyone experiences occasional ups and downs in life. Most people feel moody, irritable or sad here and there. It’s par for the course, and a healthy person rebounds and achieves emotional and mental balance rather quickly.

Some people struggle to find emotional balance on a daily basis, though. These people suffer from a mood disorder. Nearly one in ten people 18 years or older have a mood disorder.

Most people only think of depression or bipolar disorder when they hear the term “mood disorder.” But the term addresses a much broader range of conditions potentially having devastating consequences for mental and physical health.

When left untreated, mood disorders can also lead to death by suicide, addiction, accidental overdose and more. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports U.S. adults living with severe mood disorders die an average of 25 years sooner than those who do not — mainly due to treatable medical conditions.

Here we discuss this psychological umbrella term in-depth including recent breakthrough treatments like medical marijuana for mood disorders.

What Are Mood Disorders?

The term “mood disorder” is a catch-all type of term mental health professionals use to broadly categorize various depression and bipolar disorders. These disorders affect children, teens and adults.

Mood disorders are treatable with a combination of treatments including one or more of the following:

  • Antidepressants
  • Self-care
  • Support
  • Therapy

While directly caused by chemical imbalances, life events often contribute to depression and other mood disorders as does genetics.

Symptoms of Mood Disorders

The range of symptoms for mood disorders is wide and varied, and everyone experiences them differently. While the following are something everyone feels at some point in life, these feelings are more intense and continuous in people suffering from mood disorders:

  • Aggressiveness
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Emptiness
  • Excessive sleep/fatigue
  • Extreme sensitivity to failure and rejection
  • Feeling worthless or inadequate
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Guilt
  • Hostility
  • Sleeplessness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy
  • Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
  • Low libido
  • Low self-esteem
  • Overwhelming sadness
  • Pervasive thoughts of death or suicide
  • Physical symptoms like headaches, stomachaches, etc.
  • Relationship problems
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Weight gain or loss

Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can be easily mistaken for other physical and mental health conditions. If you’re experiencing these kinds of symptoms, especially if you’re having suicidal thoughts or wishing for death, you should discuss your symptoms with your doctor to see if you might have a mood disorder.

When left untreated, these symptoms of mood disorders will only worsen over time — some of them lasting years and substantially affecting your quality of life.

The sooner you seek help from a qualified health or mental health provider, the faster you’ll find relief from these negative thoughts weighing so heavily on your mind and your body.

Causes of Mood Disorders

While there is no clear-cut cause of mood disorders, most physicians believe chemical imbalances in the brain, usually triggered by some life change or another catalyzing event, represent the major culprit.

chemical imbalance

Life events that might trigger depression and other mood disorders include:

  • A death in the family.
  • Being passed over for a promotion at work.
  • Financial worries.
  • Getting a divorce.
  • Getting fired from your job.
  • Losing a pet.
  • Losing someone you love.
  • Sick or dying loved one.

Gender also plays a role in mood disorder causes — and specifically depression, as they affect nearly twice the number of women. Heredity also plays a bigger role than most people realize with family connections being strong for conditions like depression and bipolar disorder.

Types of Mood Disorders

Mood disorders is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of mental health conditions, including those listed below:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Cyclothymic disorder
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)
  • Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder
  • Depression related to medical illness
  • Depression induced by substance use or medication

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the most common mood disorders include:

Working with a doctor is the most important thing you can do to improve your mood and safeguard your health.

work with doctor

Manic states — something that people with bipolar disorder often experience in between bouts of crippling depression — are euphoric. People can hardly sleep during these spells, which can last for several days, and they can experience bursts of amazing creativity. Famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven and artist Vincent van Gogh both experienced manic depression.

History of Mood Disorders

The term “melancholy” has long roots reaching back to origins in Ancient Greece — when Hippocrates thought an excessive amount of black bile caused depression. Since then, society’s understanding of depression and methods of treating it have improved greatly.

Today, as the understanding of the conditions has grown along with compassion for people experiencing depression and bipolar disorder, there are innovative treatment options and new therapies on the horizon.

Effects of Mood Disorders

The effects of mood disorders vary and aren’t all mental and emotional. Mood disorders can have physical health consequences, including many of the following:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Osteoporosis

The mental and emotional effects can be the most difficult for people with these conditions to deal with as they often alienate friends and family intensifying their feelings of isolation, loneliness, etc. Many people who do not seek treatment for depression have difficulty in the workplace, miss a lot of work and face higher risk of suicide.

Statistics of Mood Disorders

According to the National Institutes of Health, 20.9 million Americans, representing 9.5 percent of the adult population suffer from mood disorders.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states suicide is:

  • The tenth leading cause of death in the United States.
  • The third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 14.
  • The second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24.

It also reports 90 percent of those who have committed suicide had a mental health condition.

Additionally, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and it affects more women than men.

Current Treatments Available for Mood Disorders and Their Side Effects

Depending on the extent of your mood disorder, your healthcare provider may ask you to consider one or more of the available treatments:

  1. Medications

Your physician recommends medications based on your precise condition and the severity and duration of your symptoms. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following:

  • Anti-anxiety medications
  • Antidepressant medicines
  • Antipsychotic drugs
  • Mood stabilizers
  • Stimulant medications

Some of the above medications have serious side effects to consider and may lead to worsening depression, so you need to work with the close supervision of your doctor when introducing new drugs, adjusting doses and starting a new form of treatment.

  1. Counseling or Psychotherapy

Your healthcare provider may recommend you participate in one-on-one counseling sessions as well as group therapy sessions until you and your doctor are comfortable and confident you no longer need them.

  1. Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)

You’ll learn how to think and respond to the world differently with CBT. This type of treatment is highly effective in helping people overcome many of the negative thoughts untreated depression reinforces.

  1. Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

In severe mood disorder cases or treatment-resistant depression, your psychiatrist might recommend electroconvulsive therapy. Here, an electrical current passes throughout your brain.

Doctors perform ECT under general anesthesia, with the intention of triggering a quick seizure. ECT can reduce or reverse symptoms of some mental illnesses as it’s believed to change brain chemistry.

  1. Lifestyle Changes

While not everyone benefits from lifestyle changes, such as dietary changes, meditation, journaling and exercise, it can help — especially when used in combination with other treatment options. Getting enough sleep and reducing consumption of alcohol and caffeine can help curtail symptoms of mood disorders.

While many deaths are the direct result of mood disorders, like those mentioned above, most of them are preventable. Mood disorders are highly treatable conditions. Unfortunately, far too few people who experience these conditions reach out for help before it’s too late. Some individuals lose their families, their jobs, their senses of selves and sometimes, sadly, even their lives because they fail to get help for their mood disorders.

You won’t likely spontaneously recover from mood disorders. It isn’t something you snap out of, nor is it something you’ll just get over. Many symptoms can get worse over time as well.

If you suspect you have a mood disorder, it is critical to see your physician as quickly as possible. This is especially the case for people experiencing dark thoughts of harming themselves or others or who have had intense depression symptoms for two years or longer.

How/Why Marijuana Can Be an Effective Treatment for Mood Disorders

Cannabis has over 100 compounds known as cannabinoids. These cannabinoids produce certain biological effects in your body. Doctors prescribe medical weed for physical conditions like cancer, arthritis and chronic pain. However, medical cannabis for mood disorders isn’t new. In fact, cannabis may also help treat mental health conditions — like anxiety and depression.

In a Clinical Psychology Review published report, researchers found marijuana benefits individuals with PTSD, depression and social anxiety.

Medical pot’s chemical THC affects your central nervous system in certain ways. It stimulates your brain’s cannabinoid receptors and triggers chemical reactions to influence both good and bad physical and psychological effects of marijuana.

thc for mood

While there needs to be more research, researchers also found cannabidiol produces sedation when interacting with THC, and by itself, it has antipsychotic effects.

What Side Effects/ Symptoms of Mood Disorders Can Medical Marijuana Treat?

Some side effects medical marijuana for mood disorders can help treat include:

  • Significant changes in sleep patterns and appetite
  • Unexplained crying spells and prolonged sadness
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Persistent lethargy and loss of energy
  • Indecisiveness or inability to concentrate
  • Unexplained pain and aches
  • Anger, anxiety, irritability, agitation or worry
  • Social withdrawal or not taking pleasure in former interests

Best Strains of Marijuana to Use for Mood Disorders

While medical cannabis has a history of assisting with the symptoms of various health conditions, when it comes to marijuana for mood disorders, it tends to go further with its healing potential and ability to generate a lasting impact. Certain marijuana strains seem to have a positive effect on depression specifically as well as the depressive side of bipolar disorder.

Even though cannabis and mood disorders strains focus more on reducing the impact of certain symptoms of the condition like insomnia, aggression, fatigue and lack of appetite, it also tackles depression itself, offering individuals an alternative to traditional treatments.

Some effective marijuana strains to try out include:

  • Lamb’s Bread (Sativa): Fights stress, depression or both combined. It works as an energizer, combating fatigue. It also brings about “happy vibes.”
  • Northern Lights (Indica): Numbs the body and mind, inducing complete relaxation and sedation making it ideal for insomnia. Also works as a good appetite stimulant.
  • Headband (Hybrid): Fights sadness, depression and other depressive symptoms such as feeling inadequate, worthless or guilty. Heightens the mood and allows you to unwind, relax and enjoy the moment.
  • Cannatonic (Hybrid): Alleviates pain and depression. It also uplifts your spirit, stimulates your appetite and relaxes body and muscle tension.
  • Green Crack (Sativa): Energizing and motivates you to get out of bed each day when you’re feeling hopeless or sad.

northern lights strain

You can work with your medical marijuana doctor or experienced budtender to find the strain or strains to work best for your mood disorder symptoms.

Best Methods of Marijuana Treatment for Mood Disorders

You can use various methods of delivery for cannabis for mood disorders. Common methods to administer the herb are consuming it orally, smoking it, sticking it under your tongue (sublingual) or using a suppository. You can also apply cannabis-infused oils and ointments directly to your skin topically.

Some of your options include:

  1. Vapor
  2. Smoking
  3. Concentrates
  4. Edibles
  5. Butter/oil
  6. Topicals
  7. Tinctures

What to Do Next to Start Your Medical Marijuana for Mood Disorders

If you’ve decided medical cannabis treatment is something you want to try, you’ll find all the information and resources you need at MarijuanaDoctors.com. We provide a comprehensive list of qualified doctors and cannabis clinics in the states that have legalized the herb for medicinal purposes in addition to a plethora of other resources to educate you on the herb.

Marijuana Doctors makes it so simple to reach out to a qualified doctor who will provide you with a written recommendation to start your therapy. We offer help if needed and a convenient way to schedule your appointment online. We also have a database full of medical cannabis dispensaries making it easy for you to find one in your area. Begin your search for a marijuana doctor today so you can finally find relief from your mood disorder symptoms.

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Resources:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/mooddisorders.html
  2. https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers
  3. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/mental_health_disorders/overview_of_mood_disorders_85,P00759
  4. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs369/en/

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