Battling the Blues with Cannabis

08/28/2020

Disclaimer: Before we go any further, it’s important to note that this blog in no way provides medical or psychiatric advice, and is only here to give general information. Though more research is being done today than ever before, the prohibition of cannabis has led to a lack of scientific research on it’s exact effects on the human body. If you are looking to use cannabis for medical purposes, please consult a qualified and licensed physician. 

Depression has been a growing problem over the years, but since the COVID-19 pandemic depression is at an all time high. These days it seems like everyone is experiencing some kind of emotional roller coaster. Some days it’s fine and other days were crying uncontrollably. Some people aren’t lucky enough to experience many highs and depression can seem like something that will never end. If you can relate to any of this, the good news is that as much as it might not feel like it, you aren’t alone. The better news is that cannabis could help in the battle with depression. 

cannabis-depression

Understanding depression

Depression is extremely complex and the exact causes aren’t as understood as one might think. According to WebMD some causes of depression include:

  • Abuse including past, present, physical, emotional, or sexual. 
  • Some medications have increased risk of depression. 
  • Chronic stress
  • Conflict in someone’s life.
  • Death or loss of a loved one. 
  • Major events such as starting or losing a job, moving, or any other stressful life event. 
  • Isolation or the feeling of being cast out. 
  • Chronic illness.
  • Substance abuse

It’s safe to say that most people can relate to at least a few of these common reasons, some people feel deep depression without any occurring event kicking it into high gear. Another factor that makes depression so complex in that everyone experiences it differently. Some people cry at the drop of a hat while others carry on like they don’t have a care in the world. Some common symptoms of clinical depression are:

  • Trouble concentrating
  • Poor memory
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety or restlessness
  • Loss of interest
  • Fatigue and lethargy
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Pessimism
  • Insomnia
  • Oversleeping
  • Feeling sad or “empty”
  • Overeating
  • Loss of appetite
  • Physical aches and pains or other unexplained physical problems.
  • Digestive problems
  • Low self esteem 
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Can cannabis help?

There are ways that cannabis can help take the edge off, but isn’t an all out cure for depression. Unfortunately, the prohibition of cannabis has led to a profound lack of research on numerous topics including its role in mental health. Fortunately for the modern cannabis consumer, there is more information than ever before. As more countries and US states legalize cannabis, we are able to learn about this beautiful plant. 

Throughout the prohibition of marijuana, it was thought that THC induced depression, and some still believe that today. A group of Australian researchers looked to determine if people who regularly consumed cannabis were more likely to suffer from depression. The study was conducted over a three year span and the subjects background, economic status, and other factors were considered. They found that cannabis was not related to depression or anxiety after three years of regular use. In fact a 2005 study found that those who consumed cannabis occasionally and those who consumed regularly reported feeling less distressed, and more positive effects than the non-smokers. The previous studies were conducted on adults, which is an important distinction. A different Australian study set to determine if cannabis use during adolescence contributed to depression in young adulthood. The subjects were between the ages of 14-15 and were followed for 7 years. They found that young women were five times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety in young adulthood than those who didn’t smoke cannabis. 

While these studies point out the possibility that cannabis can help with depression, they do not tell us how it can help. The University of Buffalo examined the efficacy of cannabinoids against depression. It all boils down to the endocannabinoid system. There are phytocannabinoids like THC, CBD, and CBG that come from plants, but the human body produces endocannabinoids like anandamide and 2-Arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). Anadamyde is the body’s own natural antidepressant, many often refer to it as the “bliss” molecule. It is great because it makes us feel happier and it helps the brain not pay attention to traumatic memories. A 2013 study published by Science Daily found that people with PTSD often have lower levels of anandamide than people without PTSD. Cannabinoids work with our endocannabinoids, but CBD is responsible for this one. CBD blocks the chemical that breaks down anandamide because when CBD attaches to our receptors, it changes the way that other cannabinoids attach. This leads to a buildup of anandamide in the system. Researchers took note that people use cannabis to treat PTSD and looked to examine the efficacy of cannabis use and if there was a correlation between PTSD induced suicidal states. They found that those who had consumed cannabis for 12 months were less likely to suffer from depression. That being said, cannabis can help, but it is important to know one’s own limits as too much THC can induce anxiety and paranoia. 

Seeking Help

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, you are not alone! Though the rates of depression are increasing there are more people talking about their mental health than ever before. Solidarity is a beautiful thing. Reaching out for help doesn’t make someone weak, it makes them stronger! If you are suffering from depression there are many options for help, some that don’t even require leaving the house. These recommendations are not sponsored. 

  • Open Path Collective – Open Path is a psychotherapy collective that makes therapy affordable! You pay one fee when you register and each session is between $30 – $60.
  • Better Help – Is another company that makes counseling accessible and affordable for those who need it. 
  • Suicide Prevention Hotline – If you need to speak to someone because you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone. 

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