Is Marijuana Effective at Combatting Depression?


Depression affects an estimated 19 million people a year. With sufferers of this mental illness searching high and low for treatment in the form of therapy or prescription medication, has an all-natural, inexpensive and effective treatment been growing under our noses this whole time? Here’s the lowdown on marijuana and depression.

Jul 16, 2015

Depression is a mental illness that affects an estimated 19 million people a year. Many families look for solutions from doctors and mental health professionals. Those suffering from depression are often prescribed multiple medications, such as antidepressants, to combat it. But what if there was another option that cost less, had outstanding results and was an all-natural solution—would you try it?

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Depression can be one of the hardest illnesses to overcome and can require intensive help in the form of therapy, medication or a combination of the two. Clinical depression is more serious than feeling sad too—it can consume you if you’re suffering with it for weeks or even months. Those suffering from depression can lose interest in activities and relationships they once had a passion for. Some of the other symptoms of depression include loss of energy, feeling worthless, insomnia, restlessness, thoughts of suicide and weight loss. Basically, depression sucks.

Cannabis Use and Depression
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There are several opinions surrounding the good and bad effects of cannabis on people living with chronic stress and depression. Some studies show evidence that marijuana can help those suffering from depression. One issue with this research, however, is that it is easy to skew—studies from an anti-cannabis perspective can be spun to say that people are depressed because they smoke marijuana regardless of their predisposition to depression. There is no talk of effects on the brain backed by facts from doctors, just numbers and stats lacking qualitative input.

The New Science
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Neuroscientists at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addiction have found that endocannabinoids are effective in combatting depression. Endocannabinoids—which the body naturally produces—affect our cognition, emotion and behavior. High production of these compounds can reduce feelings of anxiety and pain while increasing appetite and positive feelings. Consuming cannabis feeds the endocannabinoid receptors in our brain, thus decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety. This research has stated that cannabis is and was able to restore normal endocannabinoid function and could help stabilize moods and ease depression. It should be noted that this research was only performed on rats. But that doesn’t mean it can’t translate to humans, too.

The study of marijuana and the effect on the human mind has been muddled in politics surrounding prohibition. Yet, cannabis remains the most commonly used illicit drug in nearly every country—do we not owe a service to the mentally and physically sick people of this country to leave politics outside the realm of care and support? If depression or any other ailment can be treated with cannabis, how can we put pharmaceutical companies above people who need care?

Though there isn’t a conclusive study or comprehensive research around cannabis and depression, it does seem like the treatment can be beneficial to those living with this mental illness. As marijuana becomes more commonplace with legalization and reform sweeping America, we can hope that more resources will be put into studying the effects of marijuana on common conditions, so we’ll know once and for all, what’s fact and what’s fiction.


Featured image Yarygin / Shutterstock

Jul 16, 2015