Medical Marijuana And Depression: Allies Or Foes?

33 out of 50 states in the U.S. have legalized the use of medical marijuana, which has resulted in a debate over which medical conditions qualify for cannabis. The use of cannabis for mental illnesses such as anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression is a matter of an open discussion. Many studies have been conducted on this matter, and the results are mixed. While some studies suggest that certain cannabis strains can be extremely useful to treat depression, others suggest that it can result in psychosis or schizophrenia.

Causes and Symptoms of depression

Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses that affect more than 350 million people around the world. According to World Health Organization, at least 800,000 people die every year due to depression. Even though depression is so common, an effective treatment to treat depression and its symptoms has still not found.


Since depression is a mental illnesses, there are many factors that contribute to depressive behavior. General temperament as well as genetic predisposition are also two major factors. Chronic stress, being involved in conflicts, medical problems, big transitions in life, losing a loved one, substance abuse, trauma or serious illness can all contribute to mood disorders.

There are various signs and symptoms of depression that can occur all together or individually such as:

  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering details
  • Feeling constantly tired and a lack of energy
  • Developing sleeping disorders like insomnia, or sleeping too much
  • Hopelessness, restlessness, irritability, Experiencing guilt, pessimism or anxiety
  • Losing interest in everyday activities
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Physical aches and pains and digestive problems
  • Suicidal thoughts

Conventional treatment for depression

As we mentioned earlier, there’s no effective medication available in the market to treat depression. A person with depression should not only be given antidepressant medication but also interpersonal therapy or CBT. Moreover, since depression sucks life out of the victim and induce the feeling of worthlessness, it is important to change their lifestyle to remove all those negative feelings.

Finding the right treatment for the patient is often a trial and error approach where a therapist tries few different medications and therapies. But still, few types of treatment and medications do not offer satisfactory results for the patient. This is why people are diverting their attention to this new alternative.

Marijuana and depression

According to a study performed at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions, chemical compounds present in our brain called endocannabinoids, responsible for activating the feelings of overall well-being, trigger the same receptors as Tetrahydrocannabinol.

The researchers concluded that compounds present in medical marijuana (THC and CBD) may be helpful in restoring the functioning of natural endocannabinoid and reducing the symptoms of depression.

Another study shows that taking at least 10 puffs of cannabis which has high content of THC and CBD can reduce self-reported stress significantly, while taking only 2 puffs of marijuana can reduce anxiety. But a patient is not allowed to buy and consume cannabis until she has a marijuana recommendation in Riverside.

The same study also suggests that consuming medical marijuana for a very long period of time can actually worsen the symptoms of depression. Moreover, patients who use cannabis for a longer period can become dependent on cannabis.

Risks and warnings

  • Chronic use of medical marijuana may exacerbate depression and its symptoms
  • The use of cannabis can cause psychosis or schizophrenia in people with a history of mental illness. However, there is no evidence to support it.  
  • There are mixed researches and studies on whether marijuana and depression are allies or foes.

If you are also considering this alternative medication, make sure you consult with a doctor about its side effects and how would it affect you. Moreover, when you consult with a doctor, you can even get your medical marijuana recommendation in Riverside if you qualify for it.