Updated on December 11, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Richard Koffler, MD, Board Certified Physiatrist
Recovering from a concussion is difficult. It becomes even harder to manage when your concussion causes you to feel anxious or depressed. Sometimes, a concussion can exacerbate mood problems that you already have.
When these feelings get in the way of everyday functioning, doctors often prescribe mental health medication to relieve the symptoms. But, antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs are tricky to manage. Not only can you build a tolerance to their effects, but they also cause a long list of side effects. So, some patients dealing with post-concussion syndrome use medical marijuana to maintain their mood.
Some professionals argue marijuana can increase depression symptoms, or even cause them. However, they draw that conclusion from only a small part of the whole picture. The reasons people get depression often overlap with the reasons why people use marijuana. Marijuana users with depression tend to have had it before their weed use, and some folks even self-medicate with cannabis.
So, the data we have could point to marijuana’s ability to relieve depression since so many people find it effective enough to use. Sativa strains tend to promote feelings of happiness and clarity of mind — the perfect counter to depression symptoms. The higher amounts of THC in them make you feel euphoric.
Another misconception about marijuana is that it always causes anxiety and paranoia. While anxiety can appear as a side effect of cannabis, picking a strain low in THC often makes it go away. People who react well to marijuana and choose the right strain can successfully use it as an anxiety treatment.
Indica strains usually have more CBD than THC and make the patient feel relaxed. They work so well to promote relaxation that many patients also use them to make it easier to sleep at night. If you’d like something that doesn’t make you sleepy, certain hybrids can calm you down without making you tired.
Mental health medication tends to come in one form — as a pill. So, they don’t account for different lifestyles and ways that depression and anxiety manifest.
On the other hand, you can take marijuana medicine in many forms that release into your system in their own way. Instead of the pharmaceutical company deciding how you take your medication, you can take the same kind of strain in numerous ways that enhance certain benefits.
You can also tweak the kind of strain you use to suit the symptoms you experience. If your post-concussion syndrome gives you both anxiety and depression, you can medicate with a hybrid that treats both symptoms without worsening them. Alternatively, if you only experience one or the other, you can use a strain that pinpoints it for maximum relief.
Marijuana doesn’t cause mental health-related side effects for folks who react well to it. Some patients do experience anxiety as a negative interaction with the drug, but just like any other medicine, keep in close contact with your doctor when you start medical cannabis so you can report any complications.
The side effects of medical marijuana don’t cause nearly as much harm as the side effects of mental health medication can. Always do your research before choosing a medication.
The best way to start medicating with marijuana is to seek help from a marijuana-certified expert. We can direct you to some of the most medical marijuana-certified doctors in the United States. Our list of dispensaries highlights where you can safely and legally obtain your medicine in your area.
For more information about how cannabis can be used to treat Post-Concussion Syndrome, check out our resources: