Does Weed Help With Depression?
Does Weed Help With Depression?
Approximately 1 in 6 Americans suffer from symptoms of depression. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), patients with depressive symptoms increased during the COVID-19 health emergency. And depression remains a public health concern in the United States.
When coping with depression, some patients consider cannabis use. If you live in a state where medical cannabis use is legalized, you may be eligible to apply for a medical marijuana card as an alternative to other prescription remedies with more side effects and a higher risk of drug abuse and addiction.
Depression is a health condition, and depression affects all aspects of life. It can create social and relationship problems and impact employability and daily life activities. But there is clear evidence that some patients benefit from doctor-supervised marijuana use.
How to Identify Depression Symptoms
A primary care provider or a mental health professional can diagnose depression. The first step is to complete a depression scale, which is a multiple-choice survey. That helps determine the severity of symptoms and how often they occur.
When individuals experience at least two (2) weeks of depression symptoms without relief, they should schedule an appointment with a healthcare provider. Psychiatric disorders can often be disguised as other issues, such as the effects of chronic stress or chronic pain.
A doctor can help diagnose a mood disorder and help people with depression explore a treatment plan to ease symptoms. And one of those effective treatments could be medical marijuana use.
Diagnostic Symptoms of Depression
An individual suffering from depression may not recognize the signs. That is one of the reasons why many Americans do not talk to their doctor about options to treat depression. Most are not even aware they have a mental health condition.
Symptoms of depression may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness.
- Increased irritability, frustration, or angry outbursts.
- Loss of interest in activities that used to be pleasurable (socializing and hobbies).
- Insomnia, or instances of oversleeping.
- Fatigue and lack of energy.
- Restlessness or anxiety.
- Slowed or delayed thinking, speaking, and ambulation (body movements).
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness.
- Difficulty with focus, memory, and concentration.
- Suicidal ideation or thoughts of self-harm.
- Back pain, muscle soreness, and sometimes headaches.
- Changes in appetite and unwanted weight gain or loss.
Different types of depression impact everyday functioning. The other mental health conditions that are considered variants of depression include:
- Bipolar disorder.
- Postpartum depression.
- Affective disorders.
- Major depressive disorder.
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
If you or someone you know is experiencing some or all of these depressive symptoms, get support right away. Please get in touch with the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.
Is Depression a Qualifying health Condition for Medical Marijuana?
Some states like Alabama, D.C., Maine, and Oklahoma have listed depression as a qualifying health condition. That means patients diagnosed with depression, or a major depressive disorder, can apply for a medical cannabis card.
Many other states that allow medical marijuana use allows the physician to decide whether MMJ could help. Even if depression is not one of the qualifying conditions, a marijuana doctor can provide a recommendation for all mental health conditions.
The Role of the Endocannabinoid System in Depression
Patients can explore alternative health methods to treat depression. And cannabis use can be incorporated into a doctor-supervised treatment plan in legalized states. While many patients comment that marijuana for depression helps, how does it work?
Your body has built-in cannabinoid receptors. The 7-transmembrane receptors are an extensive network that sends and receipts chemical signals. Here is an interesting fact! Did you know there are more CB1 receptors in your brain than many other receptors?
Inside humans (and animals) are cannabinoid receptors. And two specific receptors are responsible for sending or receiving neurotransmitted signals that may provide positive results for patients with depressive symptoms.
What Do CB1 Receptors Do?
The CB1 receptors act like traffic cops. They regulate other neurotransmitters and control the levels and activities of messages being sent through the body’s central nervous system. It is a big job since the average brain processes over 70,000 thoughts, using 100B neurons, to 500 trillion points (via synapses), traveling 300 miles per hour.
Some of the 60 identified neurotransmitters in the body include acetylcholine, norepinephrine, dopamine, serotonin, glutamate, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). And they all work together to govern physiological processes like pain, memory, hunger/feeding motivation, and inflammation.
Much of the relief some patients experience using cannabis is from the mood-boosting benefits of marijuana use. But it can also help moderate pain symptoms, moderate a healthy appetite, and address fatigue.
How Do CB2 Receptors Work?
There are fewer CB2 receptors in the human body, but they also have an essential role. Most of these receptors are found in the central nervous system, and there are high concentrations of CB2 receptors in the gastrointestinal tract.
The CB2 receptors help with immune system functioning, pain management, and regulation of inflammation. They also create behaviors and responses to rewards and addiction because they regulate dopamine production. And dopamine is the hormone that makes you feel good.
Can Medical Marijuana Help With Depression?
Cannabis can be both a stimulant and a depressant. And for that reason, medical marijuana could offer potential patient benefits or worsen depression. This is why a consultation with a mental health professional is so important. There are some psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, where medical cannabis can make symptoms worse.
Some patients with depression feel that marijuana use can help them moderate specific symptoms. For example, some strains of cannabis can reduce feelings of anxiety. Other strains and terpenes can provide a boost of energy to combat fatigue.
Sleep disorder symptoms of depression are also common. Some types of cannabis can be effective in helping patients restore healthy sleep patterns. Cannabis use can help reduce anxiety, moderate pain, and other symptoms that interfere with a good night of rest.
How to Apply for an MMJ Card
If you live in a state where medical cannabis is available to patients, make DocMJ your first resource to learn more about depression and marijuana. We provide education and support for patients who want to take the first step to find out if the medical use of marijuana is a practical choice.
DocMJ is a multistate operator and cannabis healthcare provider. We offer telemedicine appointments and clinical office locations. If you are a resident of the Lonestar State, visit DocMJ Texas for more information.
A U.S. Army Reserve Veteran (Major), Dr. Dotson graduated from the University of Tennessee Center for the Health Sciences, College of Medicine. Dr. Dotson also served as Clinical Adjunct Faculty at the Debusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. For more than thirty years, Dr. Dotson has provided quality patient care specializing in ophthalmology and family medicine, and he is a Certifying Physician for DocMJ.