According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, depression affects more than 15 million American adults per year. The number of studies on antidepressants causing birth defects, suicide attempts, and death are increasing over the years. There have been over 150 studies on antidepressant induced side effects. Fortunately, there are studies showing marijuana can combat depression without the harmful side effects.
“A lot of people report using cannabis effectively to treat depression,” says Zachary Walsh, assistant professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia who helps run the research lab focused on marijuana and mental health.
Cannabis was used to treat depression and many other ailments hundreds to thousands of years ago. There is evidence of medical cannabis being used in India, China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, South Africa, and South America several centuries ago.
Antidepressants vs. Medical Marijuana
Nowadays, people are using marijuana in place of antidepressants like Prozac. The common side effects of Prozac are diarrhea, dyspepsia, nausea, nervousness, insomnia, weakness, anxiety, drowsiness, tremor, headache, xerostomia, decreased libido, anorexia, and decreased appetite. When users overdose the side effects get even worse.
On the other hand, the most common side effects from marijuana are harmless and even enjoyable. The most harmful side effect that the majority of cannabis users experience is cottonmouth. Short term memory impairment can be an issue if you’ve got tasks at hand. Additionally, it seems the memory impairment is only severe in adolescent cannabis users. A 2011 study suggests adolescent usage may even have a lasting impact on memory.
How effective is marijuana at treating depression?
The use of marijuana to treat depression is not for everyone. However, a recent study found cannabis to be effective in treating depression.
First, those suffering from depression have a decrease in endocannabinoid production. Smoking or ingesting marijuana leads to an increase in endocannabinoid production.
“Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression,” said lead researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane in a university press release.
However, there is research suggesting regular to heavy cannabis smokers are at a higher risk for developing depression. Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin claims “it doesn’t appear that marijuana directly causes depression.”
“It’s likely that the genetic, environmental or other factors that trigger depression also lead to marijuana use. Some people with depression may use marijuana as a way to detach from depressive symptoms. Heavy users may appear depressed as a result of the dulling effects of the drug on feelings and emotions,” he adds.
Marijuana can be effective in treating depression but the strain you use and your dosage matter. Strains that are commonly linked with euphoria and uplifting feelings are the best for those dealing with depression. Some common strains that are known for their feelings of euphoria include: Blue Dream, Sour Diesel, and Girl Scout Cookies. If you’re using marijuana to treat your depression you should consult with your doctor and they’ll start you off with low dosages.
Find out the right dose to keep your mood uplifted and just remember marijuana does not directly cause depression. It’s more likely that the same factors that lead to depression lead one to try pot.
Photo by Matthew Staver/ The Washington Post