Depression is a severe mental illness that can completely derail someone’s life without proper treatment. Luckily, cannabis is gaining ground as a viable treatment method for many people suffering from this condition. Keep reading to learn more about the possibilities of cannabis for depression treatment.
What Is Cannabis?
Cannabis is a flowering plant with many active components known as cannabinoids. The two most prevalent and widely researched are TCH and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC is the compound responsible for getting people high, while CBD is useful for its medicinal properties. It is possible to take CBD on its own if you are not interested in getting high. However, THC also contains some useful properties when it comes to dealing with depression.
What Is Depression?
Clinical depression is more severe than simply feeling sad. Depression is a debilitating mental illness that makes it difficult for people to live their lives to the fullest.
If you find yourself uninterested in activities you used to love or struggling to find the motivation to get through the day, you may be suffering from depression.
Other symptoms include changes in appetite, feelings of guilt or worthlessness, and suicidal thoughts. However, symptoms must persist for at least two weeks to warrant a diagnosis of depression.
It would be best if you never tried to diagnose yourself. If you suspect that you may have depression, you should seek an evaluation from a licensed mental health professional. If you have a clinical diagnosis, know that you are not alone. Estimates suggest that one in fifteen adults will experience depression each year. It also can manifest in gendered ways, with 1/3 of women experiencing at least one major depressive episode in their lifetime.
Depression is a result of various factors. Often, people have a genetic predisposition for developing it. Others may experience a traumatic life event that causes them to become depressed. The condition is a challenging illness to predict because there is no one way to contract it.
Research on Cannabis and Depression
Cannabis has reportedly been in use to combat depression for hundreds of years. One of the first recorded instances of its use, in this case, was in 1621 when Robert Burton suggested it in a book he wrote called The Anatomy of Melancholy. It has also been prevalent throughout history in India.
Most recent published studies have conducted research on animals rather than humans. This fact is primarily due to the contested and controversial nature of cannabis throughout much of the world. As the substance becomes more popular and accepted throughout the world, the number of research studies exploring its potential will likely increase.
Additionally, most of the studies that have looked at humans have been observational. This term means that the scientists did not have full control over all the variables in the experiment. They were unable to choose which patients used marijuana and which did not. Instead, the scientists were only able to study people who have chosen to use cannabis compared to those who have not chosen to do so. These studies can only determine correlation rather than causation.
In a study done on rats, researchers discovered that the body produces fewer endocannabinoids. These substances help regulate mood and other regular bodily functions when it is in a state of nearly constant stress. Cannabis contains substances that are similar to the body’s endocannabinoids. In the study, researchers suggested it could help the body regulate the production of these endocannabinoids when there is a deficiency.
A study done at the University of Washington on animals determined that cannabis appeared to induce effects like those of antidepressant drugs. However, the results were not the same across all doses.
How Can Cannabis Help with Depression Symptoms?
Cannabis has helped with many different symptoms related to depression. Therefore, while the plant cannot cure it, it could mitigate the effects of this condition.
People who feel depressed will often experience abnormally high-stress levels. However, cannabis alleviates undue stress in many people.
Many people who take cannabis for depression report at the very least perceiving a reduction in their symptoms.
Anxiety is another common symptom of depression that cannabis can fight. The use of cannabis for depression and anxiety has become much more prevalent in recent years. Generally, strands containing low levels of THC have shown promising results in people with anxiety.
Nausea is not a particularly common symptom of depression directly. However, it is a typical side effect of antidepressants.
People who use cannabis for depression may be able to mitigate nausea from antidepressants. CBD specifically can suppress nausea and vomiting.
Are There Any Side Effects to Using Cannabis to Treat Depression?
It is essential to mention that many studies that assess cannabis and depression provide a cautionary note. While the plant may work in the short term, it may not prove useful for treating the condition in the long term. Indeed, long-term use could worsen depression. If you choose to use cannabis to help yourself feel better, this is a risk you must be willing to take.
It is equally important to note that cannabis affects everyone differently. There is a chance that you will not experience any adverse effects of the substance. You should also note that there are no medications that always work for everyone, so cannabis is not alone in this regard.
If you wish to use cannabis for depression, the best course of action is to speak with a medical professional. It is also advisable to start with a small dose and slowly work your way up once you know how your body reacts to the substance.
Cannabis Strains for Depression
The research is still underway on the correlation between cannabis and depression treatment. That said, many users have found specific strains that enhance the plant’s potential antidepressant properties.
The efficacy of cannabis for depression has to do with the compound THC. THC induces a euphoric high, leading to elevated mood levels. Higher THC levels make some cannabis strains for depression more effective than others.
Strains with high THC levels include:
- Cinex – THC-dominant with citrusy scents
- Jack Herer – THC-dominant with piney scents
- Granddaddy Purple – THC-dominant with heavy sedative effects
- XJ-13 – THC-dominant with sweet, citrusy aromas
- Blackberry Kush – THC-dominant with flavors of blackberries
As cannabis becomes more prevalent, more people will realize its medicinal properties. While it is not sure how cannabis fights depression, hopefully, more research will emerge to relieve many people’s suffering.