Mar 31, 2016 5:36 AM

How can medical marijuana help with… Schizophrenia?

Definition of Schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is one of the mental illnesses that are well-known to general public due to vivid symptoms and wide portraying in literature and media. It is said that a line between genius and schizophrenic is thin, because people with this condition have altered (or even twisted) perception of reality and other people. Schizophrenia develops slowly, and usually the first signs appear at young age. Affected individuals may experience hallucinations (‘voices in the head’ being most common), disorganized thinking and speech. Early condition begins from loss of train of thought, and may develop to the state when sentences are only loosely connected in meaning. In severe cases, patient’s speech becomes completely not comprehensible by others (a phenomenon known as ‘word salad’).

People with schizophrenia often suffer from related conditions, such as major depression, anxiety disorders, substance use disorder etc., which make social problems inevitable even in case of proper treatment and care. Similarly to other illnesses with psychological aspects, treatment of schizophrenia involves drug therapies that bear the risk of making the condition even worse. Antipsychotic medications (risperidone, amisulpride, clozapine and olanzapine) appear to be the only possible remedy, and possible side effects include weight gain, diabetes and risk of metabolic syndrome.

How can medical marijuana help?

Being a substance with undeniable mind-altering effects, medical marijuana has to be taken cautiously with mental conditions. From the perspective of using medical marijuana as a treatment of schizophrenia, every case is unique. There is no telling how the mind-changing experience, common to mentally healthy users, would interact with existing mental condition of the patient. However, the above is usually true for antipsychotic drugs, traditionally prescribed in schizophrenia cases. And in comparison to them, medical marijuana has several benefits: less addiction risk, practically no overdose risk (there is no known lethal dosage of marijuana), and most notably, reducing the patient’s incline to suicide, which is very common with schizophrenia.

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