The holiday season can be stressful for everyone. The pressures of traveling to see family, cooking feasts, and buying the perfect toys can get even peppy people down. But there’s one group of people who struggle especially hard with the holiday season: people struggling with depression. The widespread assumption that everyone must be merry during the most wonderful time of the year weighs heavily on depressed people, who struggle to meet societal expectations.
We thought that the holiday season would be a good time to explore the idea of cannabis as a treatment for depression, and maybe bring some much-needed relief to those who have a hard time being full of good cheer.
What Is Depression?
The seriousness of clinical disease suffer from long-term, often debilitating feelings of sadness and low self-esteem. These feelings can make ordinary tasks such as going to work, cooking, cleaning, and even taking their medications feel impossible, causing suicidal thoughts to arise. Although it seems obviously self-destructive, the clinically depressed may seek temporary relief by self-medicating with (and sometimes mixing their prescription medication with) drugs and/or alcohol, desperate to feel something, anything, else. Unfortunately, this only complicates and intensifies the depressive feelings, causing unpredictable and risky results.
Does Marijuana Cure or Cause Depression?
While researchers have found a connection between marijuana use and depression, there is no evidence that regular marijuana use causes depression. In fact, it seems the opposite is true; feeling depressed can make a person decide to start using cannabis. However, if used as a medicine, it must be treated like a medicine, and that’s one of the main differences between medicinal and recreational use.
Marijuana can be very effective in treating certain psychiatric disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, but—as with other remedies—you have to get the dosage right, and it won’t work for everyone. It can also make things worse. Marijuana use can aggravate symptoms of psychosis, such as schizophrenia or a loss of contact with reality, in people who are at higher risk.
Problems with Conventional Depression Treatments
effects. The Journal of the American Medical Association recently reported that widely prescribed antidepressant medications such as tricyclic antidepressants, MAOIs, SSRIs, and SNRIs are only effective for those who suffer from severe depression. Other studies show that patients living with mild to moderate depression not only don’t benefit from prescribed medications, but also rather often become more depressed because of the side effects.
It can be scary for people to go on medication, but what’s also scary is that you can’t just stop taking them if they aren’t working. Abruptly stopping an SSRI such as Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), Paxil (paroxetine), or Zoloft (sertraline) can cause discontinuation syndrome, which ranges from flu symptoms or gastrointestinal distress, to difficulty thinking or disturbing thoughts—including suicide.
Treating Depression with Cannabis – Less is More
Researchers have found that low doses of cannabis increases serotonin levels in the brain, which has a similar mood-elevating effect to the one you get by taking an SSRI antidepressant such as Prozac. However, too high a dose of cannabis depletes serotonin levels and can increase symptoms of depression. If you find your depression is getting worse, it may be necessary to cut back or stop using cannabis. Doctors can work with patients to find them the right dosage.
Experts also suggest combining cannabis therapy with traditional therapy or counseling, exercise, and a healthier diet of natural foods for a greater chance of success.
If you are struggling with depression, or if you have a loved one who is depressed, make an appointment for a phone consultation with us. We might be able to take some weight off your shoulders.