Updated on January 29, 2019. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Depression can be incredibly difficult to treat. It can manifest in numerous ways, causing mental and physical symptoms alike. Patients often must try multiple treatments before they find one that works for them — not to mention they must make further adjustments afterward. But, with an increasing base of knowledge of medical marijuana, we’ve found another option for patients with depression to try.
If you haven’t found success with typical antidepressants, you could benefit from supplementing your treatment with medicinal cannabis. Learn how medical marijuana works from many different angles to improve your mood.
Firstly, and most importantly, medical marijuana has the potential to address the aspects of depression that affect mood. While many people think cannabis causes a depressed mood, there are certain types of medicinal marijuana that can make you feel happier and clear your mind. The evidence we have shows that many people with depression use marijuana to self-medicate.
If you have an anxiety disorder in addition to your depression, you aren’t alone. Around 60% of people with depression have anxiety, too, and vice versa. Having an anxiety disorder can exacerbate your depression symptoms. When everyday tasks become so overwhelming, it can make life feel more discouraging.
When dosed and recommended carefully, you can use medicinal cannabis to feel calmer and experience less anxiety. Medicine high in cannabidiol (CBD) reduces anxiety, avoiding the anxiety-inducing effects of too much tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
When we talk about depression, we mainly discuss the mental symptoms it has. While we need to emphasize the importance of taking mental health issues seriously, we sometimes overlook the fact that depression can cause physical symptoms. Some of these issues include:
Just like anxiety, physical issues can compound your depression and make it harder to manage. After all, if you don’t get a good night’s sleep and follow a healthy diet, it becomes much more difficult to develop coping strategies. These problems also don’t help if your depression is linked to body image issues or self-esteem. Fortunately, the right regimen of cannabis medicine can help you handle these symptoms.
In some cases, a patient develops depression because of the emotional distress that comes with facing a life-threatening or chronic illness. Due to the major changes and difficulty adjusting to society these disorders can cause, patients can get major depression from the resulting stress.
A few severe conditions that can cause depression include:
Many of the commonly-approved conditions for legal medical marijuana are chronic and severe for a reason — cannabis medicine works to relieve the symptoms of acute conditions. It can address pain, nausea, seizures, muscle spasms, concentration issues and more. The more research we conduct on medicinal cannabis, the more symptoms we find are responsive to it.
Mental health medication can completely change a patient’s life. But, these medicines can be difficult to dose and manage. Plus, they can cause harsh side effects that can become dangerous in certain cases. A patient can develop a tolerance to some mental health medication, forcing them to take higher doses. Then, when the patient stops taking the drug, they must do so gradually to avoid the risk of discontinuation syndrome.
Medical marijuana doesn’t cause long-term harm or discontinuation issues. While you might not be able to entirely stop your pharmaceutical medicine while using cannabis, you could lower your dosage, reducing any adverse effects.
If you’ve found it difficult to treat your depression, you have a natural option — medicinal cannabis. Talk with a doctor trained in medical marijuana for more information, then visit a dispensary to fill your recommendation.