Can Medicinal Marijuana Treat Depression?

According  to statistics from the the annual American Psychology Association “Stress in America“ survey 75% of Americans report being either “physically or psychologically” stressed. Most of them use  the prevailing panacea in the form of an antidepresent commonly in the form of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI)  as an antidote to chronic stress and the depression that frequently ensues which works by increasing levels of the chemical messenger serotonin. Due to the side effects of these antidepresents, many have resorted to marijuana. Due to its widespread usage, it would appear that people love marijuana prescriptions.  And to be fair, there may be valid reasons to explain why so many Americans take marijuana as more people are seeking help. This article tries to look at how marijuana can be used as an antidepressant.

What is depression?

Depression is a very real and has become one of the most debilitating conditions that have only recently begun to be treated with the seriousness it deserves.  Depression is more than just a “mood,” and can lead to behavioral and physical symptoms such as changes in sleeping and eating patterns, concentration levels, and more. At its extreme it can also be linked to suicidal thoughts. When people feel depressed they tend to lack interest in activities you once enjoyed.  According scientist, depression or what is commonly known as mood disorder is disability worldwide but the irony is that many people who have depression do not get the help they need. There are many conventional treatments currently available, including oral medications and different therapies. Several clinical test have been carried out to explore medicinal marijuana as an additional treatment for depression. Below is a look at the use of medical marijuana as an antidepressant, its benefits, and its possible side effects.

How does marijuana act as an antidepressant?

Medical and recreational cannabis programs have led to expanded safe access and better education in self-medication and this has made people who previously used antidepressants to turn to marijuana treatments. A study carried out in Canada in 2017 revealed that 63 percent of patients reported that they use medical marijuana as a substitute for prescription drugs, such as opioids, sedatives, and antidepressants and that it was more effective.

If you want to turn to marijuana specifically for relief from depression, it is advisable to start with what is in the flower, and not how the flower is called. Look for strains with terpenes, not just those with highTHC content. Seek cannabis strains or extracts with high levels of beta caryophyllene (β-caryophyllene) and limonene. This is because Beta caryophyllene imparts a stimulating, uplifting effect, while limonene on the other hand contains a citrusy scent and taste, with mood-boosting features.

Most sativa frequently have an “uplifting” quality. Sativa-dominant strains such as Tangie Dream, Super Lemon Haze, and Durban Poison often contain limonene. Beta caryophyllene on the other hand has a spicy, pepperish nose, and is often found in strains like OG Kush, Skywalker OG, and Sour Diesel. Note should be taken that strains recommended for the treatment of  anxiety are often dominant in terpenes that bring on the “couch-lock” or “high’’ effect, thus  great for relaxation, but not good  for depression as in this stage  motivation might already be in short supply.


 There are many varieties of marijuana strains for the treatment of depression on the shelves thus trying to find a particular marijuana strain to deal with depression can be overwhelming.

CBD, a chemical compound extracted from marijuana is often desired for its non-psychotropic effects, but certain clinical studies suggest that it works best when introduced into the endocannaboid system with at least a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC. A research article published in  In  February 2017 by  a  cannabis educator Sara Payan revealed that  “More balanced ratios of marijuana compounds  (1:1 to 1:4)  are  often helpful for  the treatment of depression, while larger ratios of these compounds  (18:1 and higher) are exceptionally good for the treatment of  anxiety and its related -causing disorders such as OCD. She also added that large amounts of high-ratio CBD strains can act as a depressant.

Research on marijuana and depression

The evaluation of the use medical marijuana as an effective antidepressant is still in its early stages. However, several clinical studies carried out are of the opinion that possible benefits of using marijuana include the restoration of “normal” endocannabinoid function and mood stabilization. Researchers at the University at Buffalo have begun looking into medicinal cannabis a as a possible treatment for depression caused by chronic stress. The Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) of this school of recent has been focusing specifically on endocannabinoids which consist of chemicals in the brain.

Endocannabinoids are naturally produced chemical compounds which play a great  role in motor control, cognition, emotions, and behavior in humans. It should be noted that these chemical compounds also have a chemical makeup similar to that of marijuana.

Other clinical studies have been performed by scientists have been carried out by scientist on animals and not humans with results showing chronic stress may suppress the brain’s production of endocannabinoids thus leading to depression-like behavior. Thus Introducing marijuana into the body system may help restore normal levels and functioning of the body which may also ease symptoms of depression.


However more clinical studies are still needed to assess and establish the true benefits and disadvantages of using cannabis as a potential therapy for people with depression. All we can say for now is that marijuana is a tool, but it is not the only option for the treatment of depression, and it might not be convenient of right for everyone.  So is advisable to always seek the opinion of a doctor before starting any treatment including medical marijuana treatment.

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