Two of the most common reasons people seek out medical marijuana is to improve their mental health. Depression and anxiety affect 18.1% of the US population every year, and many are sick of ineffective pharmaceuticals.
The problem is that definitive research is lacking, so the jury is still out on just how effective marijuana can be for improving mental health. But today, we are going to help you digest the most prominent studies on the matter, and provide you with enough information to make your own informed decision.
How marijuana can affect your mental health
There is no question a link occurs between marijuana and our mental health. The question is, what is the exact relationship? It is different for many people, and if you have a social circle that uses marijuana, you likely know this. The same dose and consumption method that melts your stress away could very well induce anxiety in someone else. This is why some people claim marijuana alleviates their depression and anxiety symptoms, while others are adamant it causes them emotional turmoil.
Marijuana is not one size fits all, as each of us possesses a unique endocannabinoid system. The only way to know if marijuana can help you with depression or anxiety is having an understanding of how your endocannabinoid system responds. This can be found through meticulous research, professional advice, and titration to find your optimal dose and ratio. However, we can look at patterns to see that it is very likely that marijuana can help improve your mood. Let’s dive into some of the research.
Research on marijuana for depression and anxiety
Unfortunately, sufficient evidence and research on marijuana and mental health is lacking. This is largely due to strict federal regulation of studies on marijuana. Thankfully, as the shift towards federal legalization continues, states are beginning to loosen their laws on researching this powerful plant.
There are a few studies that have provided meaningful insights into how marijuana affects depression and anxiety symptoms, and there are plenty of testimonials. First, let’s dive into studies on marijuana for depression.
Marijuana for depression
At the University of Buffalo, scientists investigated the efficacy of marijuana for depression. Specifically, they researched the endocannabinoid system as it relates to depression. These studies took place on animals, and found that chronic stress can reduce endocannabinoid production in the body. When this happens, your endocannabinoid system falls out of sync, and all sorts of issues may arise – one of which is depression symptoms.
By consuming cannabis, you are supplementing your body with cannabinoids. The most prominent of these are THC and CBD. They will interact with your endocannabinoid system, restoring order in your body and potentially alleviating any symptoms.
Marijuana for anxiety
Another study, this one conducted by the scientists at Washington State University, found that inhaled marijuana can significantly reduce self-reported levels of depression, anxiety, and stress. However, these findings were more short term, with minimal long term reduction of symptoms. This is part of the problem with using medical marijuana to treat depression and anxiety – it doesn’t cure the problem, rather acts as a coping mechanism.
How to treat depression and anxiety with marijuana
While the best option is to consult a medical professional, there are certain things you should know about treating depression and anxiety with marijuana.
In general, less THC is better. THC has the possibility to induce more anxiety and depression, so shoot for an even 1:1 ratio of THC to CBD. If you have severe anxiety or depression, you may consider a more CBD dominant ratio – up to 25:1. Check out our post on CBD if you want to learn more about this powerful cannabinoid.
If you find yourself suffering from constant anxiety or depression through the day, you may want to try microdosing cannabis. The art of microdosing has been shown to help patients feel good throughout the day, while remaining productive and avoiding a high. Now, let’s dive into some of the risks of using marijuana for depression and anxiety.
Risks of using marijuana for depression and anxiety
Relatively speaking, there are few risks of using marijuana for depression and anxiety. This is compared to the alternative: pharmaceuticals. Traditional medicine for treating mental health has a reputation of causing more harm than good, with many reporting feeling “numb”, and worse than before.
However, marijuana is not without risks. There are a few things that could happen when using marijuana to treat mental health disorders, including:
Becoming dependent on marijuana
While marijuana isn’t characterized as addictive by any means, it is possible to develop a dependency to it. Since the results from medicating with marijuana are quick, many suffering from one of these disorders abandons any long term coping strategy. This is compounded by the fact that marijuana mostly just produces short term benefits.
Increased depression or anxiety from marijuana
As we mentioned earlier, some people report adverse effects from attempting to medicate with marijuana. THC is known to increase heart rate, which can certainly induce anxiety. High THC strains also present the possibility of becoming uncomfortably high, which leads to paranoia or anxiety.
Best cannabis strains for depression and anxiety
The best cannabis strains for treating depression and anxiety will typically have lower THC content. You may also want to look into strains high in the limonene terpene, as this is a proven mood elevator. Some of the best strains for improving your mental health are:
- Jack herer
- Pineapple Express
- Sour Tsunami
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