Medical Marijuana as a Mood Stimulant in Patients With Anorexia Nervosa

Updated on January 30, 2019.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Medical Marijuana as a Mood Stimulant in Patients With Anorexia Nervosa

Not only is anorexia a mental health condition, but it also has strong links with other mental illnesses. Disorders like depression can take part in causing anorexia or become a result of it. While anorexia has a physical component we must address, we also need to handle any mental health symptoms associated with it.

Mental health medication doesn’t always work reliably. Some types of medication just don’t work for a patient. In some cases, a patient has to take multiple mental health medications to feel relief. The treatment process takes a lot of trial and error, with no guarantee to completely relieve symptoms. Patients with illnesses that also affect the mind, such as anorexia, can use medical marijuana to replace these drugs.

The Relationship Between Mental Health and Anorexia

While experts don’t have a definite cause for anorexia, many of them believe it develops as a coping mechanism for strong negative feelings. People with emotional health problems have a higher risk of developing the disorder. Anorexia patients often have symptoms of another mental health issue. Mental illnesses that often appear with anorexia include:

Regardless of where a comorbid mental illness comes from, relieving its symptoms makes eating disorder recovery easier. Symptoms that seem to stem from the anorexia may actually come from another condition.

Typical Treatments for Anorexia-Related Mood Symptoms

Two of the most common emotional symptoms that come with anorexia are depression and anxiety. To relieve these issues, doctors usually prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication. They also recommend cognitive behavior therapy, where the patient works with a therapist to manage their thoughts and beliefs. Patients can develop coping strategies outside of medical offices to make symptoms even easier to handle.

But, none of these strategies act as a certain cure. The efficacy of non-medicinal therapies can depend on how well the medication works. When medicine reduces the severity of emotional symptoms, it makes it easier to get the most out of non-medicinal strategies. But, mental health medication can have unreliable effects and harsh side effects. Some medicines can even be addictive.

Using Medical Marijuana as an Alternative to Mental Health Medication

To avoid the guesswork and side effects that come with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication, many patients use cannabis medicine. Some benefits that come with using medical marijuana as a mental health medication include that it:

  • Has Flexible Dosages: You can use medical marijuana to supplement or completely replace your pharmaceutical medicine.
  • Is an Easy-to-Adjust Treatment: Marijuana medicine doesn’t cause any withdrawal symptoms, making it much easier to reduce your dosage. When you switch strains, you don’t have a new list of side effects to look out for since it’s the same plant.
  • Addresses Anxiety and Depression: With a properly tailored treatment plan, you can use cannabis medicine for both symptoms.
  • Has Safer Side Effects: Medicinal cannabis can cause some minor side effects associated with mental health drugs like drowsiness and dry mouth. But, it doesn’t cause death or overdose like many of those drugs can.
  • Stimulates Appetite: Many anorexia patients can benefit from cannabis medication’s appetite-boosting abilities. You can use the same medicine to address your mood and food intake.

Discover Your Options

Medical marijuana treatment involves a team of experts, just like pharmaceutical treatment. Prospective patients can visit a cannabis-positive doctor to receive an evaluation. If you pass the assessment, your new doctor will help you get a medical marijuana recommendation, which works like a prescription. Then, take the recommendation to a medicinal cannabis dispensary to get the medicine you need.

More Information About Medical Marijuana & Anorexia