Marijuana and Depression 101

Middle Fork MarijuanaDoes marijuana help depression?

Marijuana is medicine. In fact marijuana has been used as medicine for centuries to treat ailments such as pain and nausea. However does marijuana help depression and is there a history of people using medical marijuana for depression? That’s what we’re looking to answer today.

We know that medical marijuana treats a wide variety of ailments from cancer to Crohn’s and it’s also used to combat the negative side effects of many traditional treatments like chemotherapy and the use of pharmaceutical drugs. It’s even been effective at treating neurological conditions such as epilepsy and multiple sclerosis. But does weed help with depression?

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Before we get to the obvious answer about marijuana and depression let’s define depression. Depression is a mood disorder that affects more than 20 million people in the U.S. alone. It’s often characterized by a persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness and loss of interest. In cases of severe clinical depression a lack of activity and productivity may plague patients. In extreme cases sufferers may have thoughts of suicide or self-harm. Depression is no joke. Sure there are a ton of pharmaceutical drugs available that claim to help treat depression, but many of them come with side-effects that read like a Steven king novel—shit that ranges from increased thoughts of suicide to death.

Does weed help with depression?

So does marijuana help with depression? The answer is YES. Of course it does. Not only does weed help with depression it has been shown to be considerably effective in treating other psychological conditions like bi-polar disorder and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “I think cannabis has a lot of potential in the treatment of mental illness,” said Dr. Lester Grinspoon, professor of psychiatry at the Harvard School of Medicine.

History of marijuana and depression

Marijuana and depression have a long history together. As early as 1621 English clergyman Robert Burton stated that cannabis was helpful in the treatment of depression. Around the same time, doctors in India were also using cannabis for depression. American physician and professor Hobart Amory Hare in 1887 wrote about weed’s ability to subdue restlessness and anxiety and calm a terminally ill patient’s mind: “The patient, whose most painful symptom has been mental trepidation, becomes more happy.”

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Marijuana depression and dissent

Of course there are the weed haters out there. Despite legalization in some states that hate is still alive today. Washington, one of four states that legalized weed for adults, was recently petitioned to include the term “mental illness” within the list of approved uses of medical marijuana. The request was denied because the commission in charge argued that there was no scientific evidence proving that cannabis is effective in treating any mental illness. However we did a little research, call bullshit and have listed below several marijuana and depression studies that prove otherwise.

Marijuana and depression studies

Studies have revealed that small amounts of marijuana may be effective in treating depression. In larger amounts, some researchers believe that cannabis may actually increase depression by causing increases in serotonin levels. Here are a few interesting studies about marijuana and depression that we found online:

  • A 1997 marijuana and depression study examined the effects of cannabis on those suffering from the disorder. It reported that many participants continued their use of marijuana following completion of the study—theorizing that they continued to smoke cannabis because they perceived that it relieved their symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • A 2006 marijuana and depression study called “Decreased Depression in Marijuana Users” published in the journal Addictive Behaviors concluded: “Those who consume marijuana occasionally or even daily have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried marijuana.”
  • A 2008 marijuana depression study involved the administration of THC to those suffering from depression. Employing brain scans performed by a special type of MRI, researchers found that THC was specifically responsible for reducing anxiety and fear in subjects who were exposed to pictures of threatening faces.
  • A 2012 marijuana depression study conducted by The Institute for the Study of Labor entitled “High on Life? Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicide” revealed that “marijuana can be an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders” and noted a sharp decrease in the suicide rate of 15- through 19-year old males who consumed cannabis.
  • Scientists at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) did a cannabis and depression study in 2015 looking into chronic stress and depression with a focus on endocannabinoids—the body’s internal cannabinoids that closely match those in marijuana and fit the same receptors throughout the brain, nervous system and immune system. Said RIA senior research scientist Samir Haj-Dahmane: “Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression. Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”

Beyond obtaining a solid sativa for the treatment of depression patients can also seek out strains that are high in a terpene called BCP, or beta-caryophyllene. This unique terpene also acts as a cannabinoid by fitting into CB2 receptors in the brain.

What weed strains help with depression

Some weed strains have shown great efficacy in helping sufferers alleviate symptoms. Research into marijuana and depression has revealed that Sativa strains work better than Indica strains. These marijuana and depression studies also indicate that low quantities of weed are believed to be more effective than smoking large amounts of marijuana throughout the day.

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List of weed strains for depression

The following short list of weed strains that work well at treating depression:

Green Crack: This strain allegedly takes its name from Snoop Dogg and is a southern California sativa staple.
Sour Diesel: This is a sativa-dom version of the legendary ChemDawg noted for high THC content.
AK-47: This is an extremely potent strain know for it’s fruity and sweet aroma and flavor.
Jack Herer: This Sativa dominant strain (a combo of Haze, Northern Lights #5, and Skunk #1) is named after the legendary activist.
Trainwreck: Many say that the Trainwreck strain is from Arcata, CA grown on a hillside near the site of an old trainwreck. Some say it’s a product of two brothers from the 80s and a few think Tupac’s still alive. If it works who gives a shit, right?

Do you have any experience with marijuana and depression? Do you use medical marijuana for depression? Let us know how it works for you and what strain you think works best in the comments below…

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