Can You Get Depression After Quitting Weed?

Depression after quitting weed
By Rachel Sims Updated April 25th

Fact-checked by Alexandra Arnett, MS

Medically reviewed by Dr. Brian Kessler, MD

Depression is a serious mood disorder that, according to the CDC, almost 5% of adults suffer from globally. That’s millions of people worldwide, which makes it a common and significant health concern. 

Depression presents with persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in daily activities. The condition can significantly impact someone’s day, from their mood and behavior to their overall well-being. Depression often leads to an array of emotional and physical symptoms, including trouble sleeping, impulsive decisions, and more.

Now that cannabis is medically legal in more states, many people may use the plant to get relief from symptoms of depression. However, while some may experience relief from using cannabis, others may encounter adverse effects, including anxiety, paranoia, and mood changes.

One question that arises is whether quitting cannabis use can lead to or exacerbate depression. The relationship between cannabis use and depression is complex and varies from person to person. But why can symptoms feel so close to depression after quitting weed?

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What is Depression?

Also known as major depressive disorder (MDD), depression is a complex mental health condition. It goes beyond temporary feelings of unhappiness or sorrow. The condition affects one’s mood, cognition, behavior, and physical health.

Common Symptoms of Depression

Different people may not experience depression in the same way. However, some symptoms are more common.

  • A pervasive feeling of emptiness, unhappiness, or discontent that can last for days, weeks, or months.
  • Diminished interest in activities and hobbies that were once enjoyable.
  • Significant appetite changes, potentially leading to noticeable weight loss or gain.
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping excessively (insomnia or hypersomnia).
  • Constant feeling of fatigue, even after a full night of rest.
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide, which may or may not be accompanied by specific plans.
  • Restlessness or a slowing of physical and mental processes.
  • Unexplained physical complaints, such as headaches or digestive problems.
  • Ongoing self-criticism, feelings of guilt, or a sense of being worthless.
  • Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.

Risk Factors and Common Causes of Depression

Depression can be influenced by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. There are several common risk factors and causes.

Genetics and Family History

One factor that may increase the risk of depression is a family history of the condition. Individuals with close relatives who have depression may have a higher genetic predisposition to develop it themselves. 

It’s important to note that genetics alone don’t guarantee someone will develop depression. A complex interplay of genetic and environmental variables influences it.

Brain Chemistry

Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that transmit signals from nerve cells to other target cells. These may include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. 

Depression has been associated with imbalances in these neurotransmitters. Disruptions in these imbalances can affect mood and contribute to an array of other depressive symptoms.

Trauma or Stress

Experiencing traumatic events or chronic stress can be a significant trigger for depression. Trauma may include the loss of a loved one, physical or emotional trauma, or prolonged exposure to stressors. These stressors may include work-related stress, financial problems, or relationship difficulties. 

Any of these traumatic situations may overwhelm an individual’s coping mechanisms and lead to the development of depressive symptoms. 

Chronic Illness

Conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, or other chronic conditions can lead to feelings of hopelessness and sadness. While it may not directly cause depression, having a chronic illness may contribute to its development.

Personality Traits

Certain personality traits can make individuals more vulnerable to depression. 

For example, individuals with low self-esteem may have a heightened risk of developing depressive symptoms. These may include low self-worth, which can contribute to the depressive feelings of hopelessness and sadness. 

Substance Abuse

The misuse of alcohol, drugs, or prescription medications can disrupt brain chemistry and increase susceptibility to depressive symptoms. Substance abuse can also mask or exacerbate underlying emotional issues.1

How is Depression Treated?

Understanding these causes and risk factors is essential for both prevention and treatment. Fortunately, depression is a treatable condition, with various approaches that can be effective.

Talk therapy is a massively effective tool for any mental health condition. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy (IPT), or another form of talk therapy may be most beneficial for you. 

In some cases, medicinal intervention is necessary. Depression can be treated through antidepressants like SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). These prescription medications are often prescribed to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain.

Lifestyle changes can also help depression. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep can improve mood and alleviate symptoms.

Support groups are a great way to connect with others who struggle with depression. Participating in these groups can provide emotional support and strategies for coping with depression.

Address your risk factors through a combination of therapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and social support. It’s a comprehensive approach to managing depression. Early intervention and seeking professional help can significantly improve your ability to cope with and recover from depression.

Can Weed Treat Depression?

Can weed help with depression?

The use of cannabis for depression remains a subject of ongoing research. Some consumers believe there are more effective weed strains for depression, while others use any flower strain for relief. Everyone is different, so there’s no set answer on whether it will work for someone.

Some studies suggest cannabinoids like THC may potentially influence mood and alleviate certain depressive symptoms. This is done mainly through activation of the CB1 receptors in the brain that interact with the modulation of serotonin receptors, which are key in depression. 

Overall, preclinical studies indicate cannabis may be therapeutically effective for depression.2 The relationship between the plant and depression is complex, which is why effects vary among individuals.

While current research is inconclusive, studies do show promising results. In short, consumers considering cannabis as a potential depression treatment should consult with a medical health professional. You should determine the most appropriate treatment for depression through consultation with a qualified healthcare provider.

Common Weed Withdrawal Symptoms

Not everyone who quits cannabis will experience withdrawal symptoms. The likelihood of experiencing these symptoms depends on factors like frequency and quantity of cannabis use. For example, symptoms are more likely to occur and be potentially more severe among chronic and heavy cannabis consumers. 

However, the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms still vary from person to person. 

Is Cannabis Withdrawal Real?

Cannabis withdrawal is a real and recognized condition. It’s characterized by a set of physical and/or psychological symptoms that happen when someone who regularly uses cannabis quits. 

These symptoms are temporary. If you’re currently facing cannabis withdrawal, know the symptoms will subside as your body adjusts to the absence of weed.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms After Quitting Cannabis

These are several common cannabis withdrawal symptoms that may occur after stopping regular use.3 However, because everyone is different, one may experience unique symptoms outside of this list.

Anxiety: Restlessness or increased anxiety after quitting weed.

Irritability: Erratic mood, mood swings, and overall irritability are typical to experience during withdrawal.

Anger or Outright Aggression: In some cases, the irritability may be more enhanced. Some people may become more prone to anger or aggressive outbursts.

Disturbed Sleep: One may experience changes in sleep patterns, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. Unusual or disturbing dreams may also occur.

Low Mood: Depressive symptoms, including a low mood, are very common when quitting cannabis. Fortunately, depression after quitting weed doesn’t appear to be long-term.

Appetite Loss: Weight loss due to reduced appetite is a common physical withdrawal symptom.

Chills: Some individuals may experience temperature fluctuations, including chills or cold sweats.

Sweating: Excessive sweating may also occur partly due to temperature fluctuations.

Headaches: Recurring headaches are a possible withdrawal symptom. 

Stomach Pain: While abdominal discomfort is less common, it has been reported as a potential withdrawal symptom.

Physical Tension: Muscle tension or physical discomfort is also common, though reported less frequently.

Is CBD Withdrawal Also Possible?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid in cannabis. Fortunately, research so far shows zero evidence of CBD withdrawal symptoms, even after abrupt discontinuation. Generally, there are no adverse symptoms associated with quitting CBD.4

Why Does Quitting Weed Lead to Depression?

Why does depression after quitting weed happen?

The phenomenon of depression from cannabis withdrawal is a form of situational depression. Individuals experience a temporary period of depressive symptoms which happen as a result of specific circumstances. 

Why does it happen in the first place? There may be some science behind why certain consumers experience weed withdrawal symptoms.

First, there is a possibility that individuals are using cannabis to relieve symptoms of depression. Unfortunately, that may lead to a cycle of increasing cannabis use, which could exacerbate both conditions. It’s one reason moderation is key because discontinuing cannabis may also result in a resurgence of depressive symptoms.5

Cannabis use can also influence the brain's reward system, which is responsible for experiencing pleasure and motivation. Chronic cannabis use may lead to alterations in the brain's reward pathways, specifically the dopamine system. Chronic users of high-THC cannabis may experience a reduction in dopamine activity, which may lead to symptoms of depression.6

Depression After Quitting Weed: How Long Does it Last?

Research suggests that anger, aggression, and depression may begin as early as one week into withdrawal. Typically, depression symptoms peak after two weeks of abstaining from the plant. For a regular or frequent user, it may take a month of abstinence for symptoms to wear off. This gives the body time to repair what has been affected by chronic cannabis use.

The duration one might experience depression is variable. It depends on a combination of factors. While symptoms typically subside over time, professional guidance and support can be beneficial. Navigate through this challenging period with a support system, especially if you experience severe or prolonged symptoms.

One way to help lessen how long the symptoms will last is to utilize effective coping strategies. Seek social support and engage in activities that help promote emotional well-being. These strategies may help mitigate depressive symptoms and shorten the duration of experiencing them.

Tips For Managing Depression After Quitting Weed

Managing depression after quitting weed

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression after quitting weed, there are several effective strategies for managing the transition and improving mental health.

1. Stay Patient and Persistent

Understand that recovery from depression can be a gradual process. Be patient with yourself and remain persistent in your efforts. Don't be discouraged by setbacks; they are a normal part of the journey.

2. Stay Informed

Educate yourself about depression and its symptoms. Understanding what you're going through can help you and your loved ones better manage the condition.

3. Build a Support Network

Reach out to friends and family who can provide emotional support and understanding. Involve loved ones in your recovery process.

4. Stay Social

Isolation can worsen depression. Maintain social connections with friends and family, even when you may not feel like it. That means participating in group activities, joining support groups, and/or confiding in a trusted friend to provide emotional support.

5. Set Realistic Goals

Break down your daily tasks into smaller, manageable goals. Achieving these goals can boost self-esteem and give you a sense of accomplishment, which works wonders against depressive symptoms.

6. Track Your Progress

Keep a journal handy or utilize a mental health app to track your progress. Over time, you can start to identify triggers and better monitor changes in your mood.

7. Utilize Natural Options

Engage in physical activity to naturally release endorphins, which are natural mood lifters. Incorporate exercise into your routine to help alleviate symptoms of depression.

Likewise, eat a properly balanced diet. Proper nutrition plays a significant role in mental health. Try to eat lean protein, good fats, wholesome carbs, vegetables, and whole grains. Likewise, don’t forget to satiate your cravings on occasion. That way, you nourish your soul just as much as your mind and body.

Lastly, prioritize getting quality sleep – and enough of it. Sleep disturbances can exacerbate depression. Try to establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing bedtime routine you can look forward to each night.

8. Use Mindfulness & Relaxation Techniques

Practicing mindfulness, meditation, or deep breathing exercises can help manage stress and anxiety, which are often intertwined with depression. These techniques promote relaxation and emotional well-being.

9. Limit or Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol can affect mood and worsen depressive symptoms.7 Reducing or eliminating the consumption of alcohol may be beneficial.

10. Switch to or Try CBD

Utilizing non-intoxicating CBD products may help you wean off cannabis while still receiving benefits from it. It won’t induce euphoria, but it may help relieve certain weed withdrawal symptoms.8

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When Should You Seek Professional Help?

You might want to reach out to a mental health professional for several reasons – and each is 100% valid. It’s okay to get help. Reach out to a professional if:

  • You’re unable to function in your daily life due to the symptoms.
  • Self-help strategies don’t yield significant improvement over time.
  • You have thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
  • Your depression is severe, persistent, or worsening.

Professional help can provide tailored treatment and a reliable support plan. In cases of severe depression, it can be life-saving. You are not alone. Don’t hesitate to seek assistance from a healthcare provider.


  1. Quello SB, Brady KT, Sonne SC. Mood disorders and substance use disorder: a complex comorbidity. Sci Pract Perspect. 2005;3(1):13-21. doi:10.1151/spp053113 ↩︎
  2. Feingold D, Weinstein A. Cannabis and Depression. Cannabinoids and Neuropsychiatric Disorders. 2020;1264:67-80. doi: ↩︎
  3. Connor JP, Stjepanović D, Budney AJ, Le Foll B, Hall WD. Clinical management of cannabis withdrawal. Addiction. 2022;117(7):2075-2095. doi:10.1111/add.15743  ↩︎
  4. Taylor L, Crockett J, Tayo B, Checketts D, Sommerville K. Abrupt withdrawal of cannabidiol (CBD): A randomized trial. Epilepsy Behav. 2020;104(Pt A):106938. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2020.106938 ↩︎
  5. Dierker L, Selya A, Lanza ST, Li R, Rose J. Depression and marijuana use disorder symptoms among current marijuana users. Addictive Behaviors. 2018;76:161-168. doi: ↩︎
  6. Langlois CC, Potvin S, Khullar A, Smadar Valérie Tourjman. Down and High: Reflections Regarding Depression and Cannabis. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2021;12. doi: ↩︎
  7. Wang S-C, Chen Y-C, Chen S-J, Lee C-H, Cheng C-M. Alcohol Addiction, Gut Microbiota, and Alcoholism Treatment: A Review. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2020; 21(17):6413. ↩︎
  8. Rømer Thomsen K, Thylstrup B, Kenyon EA, et al. Cannabinoids for the treatment of cannabis use disorder: New avenues for reaching and helping youth? Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 2022;132:169-180. doi: ↩︎

The information in this article and any included images or charts are for educational purposes only. This information is neither a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional legal advice or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about laws, regulations, or your health, you should always consult with an attorney, physician or other licensed professional.

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