Is Marijuana Good or Bad for Your Mental Health?

With over half of U.S. states allowing for medical marijuana use and the increased number of psychiatric patients seeking alternative remedies to prescription drugs for mental disorders, medical marijuana doctors are focused on understanding how cannabis can help. Cannabinoid pharmacology has grown with increased awareness about cannabis and how it relates to the endocannabinoid system. Further studies about how cannabis helps those with mental health issues are developing and many have found cannabis to improve their quality of life [1].

For general information about whether medical marijuana (MMJ) is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Florida Marijuana Doctors. You may complete our eligibility survey in just 5 minutes to find out if you pre-qualify for a recommendation.

Prescription Drugs for Mental Health

Pharmaceutical companies have been exploding in wealth over the past few decades as they have marketed their drugs during just about every television show aired in the United States. Vast numbers of the population rely on psychotropic medications to treat their mental health problems. While psychotherapy and counseling prove effective in helping psychiatric patients, many need medications to be able to function in day-to-day life. This is because science has shown there to be a connection between the mind and body when it comes to chemical imbalances in the brain that result in things such as undesired thoughts and behaviors, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, the medications used to treat these conditions come with negative side effects like suicidal ideation. In addition, prescription drugs can be too expensive for many to afford [2]. 

Always Talk to a Doctor Before Using Cannabis

Studies about the non-psychoactive component of marijuana, CBD (cannabidiol), have been effective in determining that it helps those with mental disorders (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, agitation). However, many psychiatrists and addiction specialists are reluctant to recommend cannabis to their patients because it is often seen as a “gateway drug” to be abused. Still, for many sufferers, cannabis is preferred because it does not come with the negative side effects seen with prescription medications. While cannabis does not compare to the addictive potential of illicit drugs, alcohol, tobacco, or other prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines, opioids, barbiturates, or stimulants, some psychotic patients should refrain from cannabis use or limit it to the smallest dose that is effective for them. As a drug, cannabis does have indications and contraindications. It is imperative that patients with any qualifying condition for a medical marijuana recommendation talk to a doctor about what is right for them [2].

Marijuana Use for Anxiety and Depression

Most of the studies done on medical marijuana as it relates to those with mental disorders have centered around depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder. There are many factors that have to be considered and treating mental disorders is a complex issue. The results of studies to date are varied between positive, negative, and neutral. Researchers at the University of Colorado studied 375 students over a three year period to look at the correlation between those who use cannabis for anxiety and depression symptoms. They understood that human behavior is complex and therefore included temperament as part of the study: 

“The temperament dimension of harm avoidance (HA) is particularly relevant for understanding anxiety and depression as it is characterized by heightened apprehension, shyness, pessimism, and inhibition of behaviors. Given these biases, it is not surprising that HA is positively associated with both anxiety and depression. . . It is also important to consider that the simple relations we observed between marijuana use and depression symptoms differed from those obtained in the more complex models. That is, when only marijuana use was considered, results suggest a positive association between marijuana use and depression. […] [Ed. – This means that greater marijuana use was correlated with greater depressive symptoms.]

However, in the regression models that prospectively predict anxiety/depression and also include [multiple personality factors and temperament] interactions, and baseline anxiety or depression, marijuana use was not an independent predictor of depression symptoms. Moreover, in the models involving [novelty seeking], marijuana use negatively predicted depression symptoms (and anxiety).

 

These differing patterns of results first demonstrate the importance of measuring the effects of marijuana within the context of other factors known to affect anxiety and depression, as well as prior symptoms of anxiety and depression. The results might also indicate a complex causal relation between marijuana use and depression in which initial symptoms of depression facilitate marijuana use, which subsequently decreases depression” [3].

From this study, one may conclude that marijuana and depression do not share a causal relationship but rather that cannabis helps improve symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Cannabis Treats Seizures, Schizophrenia, and PTSD

Cannabis improves brain health by stimulating electrical activity which has anti-seizure effects for those with epilepsy. More doctors are recommending cannabis to treat seizures caused by a variety of illnesses. In addition, patients with schizophrenia show symptoms marked by a lost sense of reality, hallucinations, and speech problems. Ongoing research has found cannabis has antipsychotic effects, helping the brain and nervous system to regulate neurons that transmit messages to the rest of the body. Patients with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) relive past negative experiences that have affected brain health, and sufferers of this mental disorder require an increase in serotonin levels as treatment. Cannabis helps to increase serotonin levels, thus relieving the anxiety and fear associated with PTSD. 

Is Medical Marijuana Right for Me?

Whether medical marijuana will help your condition depends on many factors best evaluated by a medical doctor. If you feel you may benefit from medical marijuana, the first step is to take our eligibility survey. In just 5 minutes, you could pre-qualify for a recommendation. A Florida Marijuana Doctor can then determine if you qualify during an in-person exam. For more information, visit https://docmj.com.

  1. https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/special-reports/medical-marijuana-and-mental-health-cannabis-use-psychiatric-practice
  2. https://www.medicalcannabis.com/indications-for-use/mental-health/
  3. https://psychcentral.com/blog/medical-marijuana-for-depression-bipolar-disorder-anxiety-mental-illness-can-it-help/
  4. https://cannacon.org/benefits-of-cannabis-for-mental-health/