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Medical Marijuana and Major Depression

What Is Major Depression?

Major depression, also known as clinical depression, is a form of depression that is strong enough to alter one's daily life and last for at least several weeks but can last significantly longer. The exact cause of major depression is unknown and that may be because there are numerous causes. Doctors have noticed that there are certain lifestyle, nature and nurture factors that may play a role in developing major depression. These include a family propensity toward the disorder, substance abuse, prolonged illness, traumatic events and abuse. However, a person who has experienced none of these can still develop major depression.  The symptoms of major depression are the same as any other kinds of depression, though it is more prolonged and severe than other types of depression. These symptoms are feelings of sadness, hopelessness, loss, anger, frustration and lack of enjoyment. Physical symptoms are weight loss or weight gain, sleeping changes and fatigue. People who suffer from major depression may think about committing suicide or even plan/attempt it. That and how much it can interfere with life are the reasons why major depression requires treatment from mental health and medical professionals. Medical marijuana has been shown to have a range of benefits for users, though patients do not respond in a uniform manner. Like all mental health disorders, major depression may require the use and cessation of several different medications before doctors find the one that works right for each individual patient. Medical marijuana is one of these medications and can show different results for different patients. However, unlike other depression medications, there are no risks of overdose and the effects take place almost immediately.

Medical Marijuana and Major Depression

Medical Marijuana, Major Depression and User Reports 

The University of Southern California conducted marijuana and depression research using a survey targeting both marijuana users and people who do not use marijuana. The survey, which utilized "The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale," showed interesting results. Out of the 4,400 people surveyed, the ones who used marijuana showed fewer signs of depression than those who did not. Further studies were conducted into whether recreational users were more depressed than medical marijuana users as some have suggested and this also showed interesting results. Recreational marijuana does not appear to have more risks in causing or worsening depression. In fact, medical marijuana users were shown to have more signs of depression than recreational marijuana users, which was attributed to their various illnesses. There is no evidence to suggest that the medical marijuana was causing depression. Prolonged illness has long been known to be one of the risk factors for depression. 

Medical Marijuana and Major Depression-Related Weight Loss 

One of the few widely accepted uses for medical marijuana is for increasing appetite. Individuals with major depression may experience extreme loss of appetite that can lead to dangerous weight loss. Medical marijuana can help them eat more after ingestion or smoking. One of its primary uses in this department is for emaciated HIV patients. Nonetheless, it can increase appetite in any individual. In fact, this is one of the most common effects of medical and recreational marijuana. 

The Marijuana and Major Depression Myth 

It has long been said that marijuana increases or causes depression and other mental health maladies. While it is certain that some react poorly to medical marijuana and should be given other treatments, it is no different from other mental health medications. Furthermore, the statement that medical marijuana is a cause of mental health maladies like major depression may have no basis in truth. Circumstances that lead people to use marijuana and the likelihood of people self-medicating with marijuana is likely leading people to believe this myth. 

According to Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin on the Mayo Clinic website, marijuana is probably not the cause of any kind of depression. He states that the same factors that lead individuals into depression are similar to the factors that lead individuals to self-medicate with marijuana. In other words, marijuana does not cause depression. People who are using marijuana that are also depressed were either already depressed or predisposed to depression before they began using marijuana. The fact that so many people turn to marijuana to treat their depression says more for the use of marijuana as a medical treatment than it does for marijuana as a cause of depression. Nonetheless, it is important to note that adverse mental reactions do happen in a small portion of marijuana users. Medical marijuana use under the supervision of a mental health professional is always preferable to self-medication.

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