There’s no question that millions of people enjoy cannabis solely for its ability to make them feel good. But could it be a viable treatment for depression? We know that cannabis works great for boosting mood and promoting relaxation, but we are only beginning to uncover its potential as a treatment for psychological issues like depression. Let’s take a look at our current understanding of how cannabis could be used to help people who are depressed.
Depression is a debilitating condition that affects over 300 million Americans. While you could argue that we aren’t a very happy country, clinical depression is about more than being stuck in a bad mood. It can cause physical and psychological symptoms that affect eating, sleeping and even our ability to concentrate. Unfortunately, people who suffer from depression have very limited options when it comes to effective treatments. Most depression medications like SSRIs come with unwanted side effects, take weeks to begin working, and sometimes aren’t effective at all.
For a long time, depression was something most people were to be embarrassed to talk about. But the growing awareness of how common mental health issues are is creating a shift, and it’s becoming more acceptable to open up about depression.
Along with mental health awareness, we’ve also seen an explosion in the acceptance of medical and recreational cannabis. With better education and expanded access to alternative treatments, many people are turning to cannabis to find relief.
Can Cannabis Treat Depression?
There is overwhelming anecdotal evidence that cannabis works as a treatment for depression. People report that it helps them to feel better instantly. Other people say that using cannabis eases anxiety, helps them release negative emotions, and takes the edge off stressful situations. Even just being able to get a full night sleep can benefit someone who suffers from anxiety and depression. But what does science have to say?
While we are just starting to understand the potential for cannabis to treat depression, what we do know looks promising. A 2006 study that surveyed over 4,000 adults compared daily and weekly cannabis users with those who had never used cannabis before. The daily and weekly cannabis users reported a less depressed mood and a more positive outlook than those who abstained. Another study published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management reported that 86% of participants who used cannabis experienced reduced depression, while 93% experienced decreased anxiety.
How Does Cannabis Work for Depression?
Our bodies are naturally equipped with an endocannabinoid system. It works to regulate chemicals that influence our mood, emotions, and behavior. Scientists think that people who are stressed, anxious, and depressed might not be producing enough endocannabinoids, leading to depression-like symptoms. They are interested in studying how cannabis can work to balance the endocannabinoid system to treat mental health issues. While researchers have only begun to start cannabis studies that will lead to human trials for issues like depression, they think both THC and CBD can benefit the brain.
Should You Try Cannabis for Depression?
While the potential for cannabis to help millions with depression is encouraging, researchers are still learning how it works and the best way to use it as a mental health treatment. But where clinical research is lacking, anecdotal evidence is strong. People use cannabis every day to lift their mood and improve their quality of life. Medical cannabis works a little differently for everyone, so the decision to give it a try needs to be a personal choice between you and your doctor.
Want more information on how cannabis can help ease feelings of depression? Our expert staff is here to help. Schedule an appointment and start your journey to becoming a registers Maryland Cannabis Patient.