Marijuana for Depression

Andrew Ward
September 28, 2021

The information is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve readers of their obligation to obtain qualified medical, legal or other professional advice.

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Many new studies are analyzing the potential of using marijuana for depression.

Depression is a mood disorder that affects scores of people across the world. It can upend any person's daily life, regardless of age, race, gender, location, or other factors. Its ability to affect any person is matched by its complexity, with a myriad of possible causes. 

Much of the public remains unclear about depression despite the disorder being so prevalent. This uncertainty is likely linked to the intricacy of the condition, as well as the long-running stigma against mental health in many parts of the world. While the stigma is waning and acceptance of mental health conditions are on the rise, much more work is required. 

Such work is continually advanced by a growing database of lab studies and the various treatments employed to treat those with depression. One possible option is medical marijuana. Here are some of the common questions people ask about medical cannabis and depression. 

What is Depression? 

Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder, is a disorder that affects a person's mood, leaving them with ongoing bouts of sadness and interest loss. Also known as clinical depression, the adverse emotional and physical effects of depression are well documented.

At eternity's gate by Vincent Van Gogh - depicts a depressed elderly man
Depression can leave patients with a feeling of hopelessness.

The condition can be confused for everyday sadness and grief. However, those who suffer from depression exhibit an inability to go on about their day as they typically would. 

Notable symptoms include a weight loss or gain from a change in appetite, trouble sleeping, low self-worth, thoughts of self-harm and several others. Typically, these signs must last for at least two weeks before being classified as depression. 

Depression is estimated to affect one in 15 adults every year, with one in six experiencing depression at some point. Symptoms can begin at any point in a person's life. In most cases, signs start to become apparent in a person's later teens to mid-20s. 

What Causes Depression?

A multitude of factors cause depression. Many believe that the mood disorder stems from a chemical imbalance in the brain. Others would argue that the answer is more intricate than that. 

Causes of depression inlude high cortisol stress, anxiety, PMS and Drug abuse
Depression can have many causes.

A vast system of factors could be the cause of a person’s depression. The source could be an internal factor, including a chemical imbalance, hormones, inherited traits, as well as another medical condition.

External factors are believed to play a significant role as well, with the effects of stress and medications potentially playing a part in the development of depression.

The complex nature of depression and the various sources of it have made diagnosing depression difficult. With numerous avenues of development, professionals often explore several treatment forms to determine what works best for each patient.   

How Is Depression Treated?

Medical professionals consider depression to be one of the more treatable conditions, with an estimated 80 to 90% of patients responding to one of the various treatment forms employed by physicians.

After conducting an examination of the patient, medical professionals are likely to recommend either one or a combination of options. Commonly recommended treatments include various medications depending on the person's condition, as well as multiple types of therapy. Most will be recommended to psychotherapy, where the patient can discuss their situation during cognitive behavioral therapy sessions.

Depression cycle; Sleeping issues, Feelings of sadness, loss of interests and motivation, inactivity and loss of energy, Guilt and feelings of worthlessness
Depression can cause a vicious cycle.

With various avenues of treatment and causation, treating depression can require exploring several possible options before reaching the most suitable method for an individual.

People are also often encouraged to practice self-help and personal care that puts them in their best mental state. For some, medical marijuana has been reported as such an option.

Which States Allow Cannabis Treatment For Depression? 

At this time, no states clearly list depression as a qualifying condition of its list. That said, most states do allow petitions to have conditions like depression permitted in their case, or on the list itself. 

In certain states, qualifying conditions are set by the doctor instead of by the legislature. In these states, physicians are permitted to recommend medical cannabis to any patient where they deem cannabis could help their medical condition. These states are:

Patients in legal states can also self-medicate through adult use dispensaries. That said, NuggMD always recommends patients speak with a medical professional before treating themselves with cannabis. 

Current Research About Cannabis and Depression

Research on the effects of cannabis on depression is ongoing. As such, the world has been privy to an uptick in insights in recent years.

Earlier studies conducted laid the groundwork for validating the long-reported anecdotes of self-medicating consumers. A 1997 survey concluded that depression symptoms in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients were reduced in more than 80% of those polled. Similar results were reported in another MS patient survey conducted in 2003. The following year saw similar results in patients living with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

The ensuing years would see more studies published relating to depression and cannabis. Examples include a 2017 open study of chronic pain patients, which noted that depression levels were lower in those receiving cannabis as a treatment over opioids. The following year, a controlled study found that CBD has the ability to reduce depression levels without affecting a person’s sleep cycle.

A July 2020 study from the University of New Mexico revealed that cannabis flower might be a viable option for depression symptoms. Researchers noted that cannabis could be an effective option for addressing depression and improving mental health in their work.

Are There Risks Associated with Cannabis and Depression?

Yes, there are risks associated with taking any medicine. Cannabis is no exception.

Due to federal regulations in the United States, studies concerning cannabis and its effects on depression remain limited. As such, there are limited lab studies to verify the efficacy of marijuana on any particular type of depression. And while various lab studies support its effects, other scientific data has produced contrary results, requiring additional research into cannabis and its impact on a person's depression.

Consumers should also be aware that addiction to marijuana is real in a small percent of the population. Additionally, certain health conditions may be adversely affected by using cannabis. 

Be sure to speak with a qualified medical professional before consuming marijuana or starting any other treatment option.

RELATED: A Visual Guide to Marijuana Measurements & Prices

How Do I Find the Best Cannabis for My Needs? 

Patients are encouraged to speak with a medical professional to assess their needs and identify the best cannabis for treatment. Depending on the state and municipality, a qualified patient may be recommended to try a range of cannabis options, varying in application and cannabinoid content. 

Common options include cannabis flower, oils, edibles, topicals and several other medical treatments.

If you would like to speak with a physician via telemedicine, NuggMD physicians serve patients in Oklahoma, Missouri, New York, Nevada and California. At NuggMD, we believe all patients have the right to try medicinal marijuana for their illnesses. 

NuggMD's physicians are committed to helping patients learn about medical cannabis' risks and potential benefits, so they can make an informed decision about their treatment. And the NuggMD customer service team takes great pride in being the most customer-obsessed, reliable and trustworthy platform in the community. 

Andrew Ward
Andrew is a Brooklyn, New York-based writer with a degree in Creative Writing from Montclair State University in New Jersey. After years of working in freelance and offices, he embraced the future of work and re-entered the independent workforce. Today, he provides creative solutions to Nugg and other respected cannabis companies.

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