Apr 6, 2016 9:50 AM

Marijuana and Antidepressants: Can Cannabis Be Next Depression Treatment?

Does marijuana help depression? Yes. Is there a difference between the effects of marijuana and antidepressants on our bodies? Let us take a look.

Depression is a mental illness that affects nearly 20 million people a year. Some patients suffering from this tricky and extremely dangerous ailment consult mental health specialists, others prefer to combat the condition by themselves. Being one of the hardest illness to overcome, depression requires intensive aid in the form of therapy, medication, or a combination of the two.

The patients are usually prescribed different medications, including antidepressants, to help manage their distress. These medications are proven to reduce the anxiety and stress. But the rise of concerns about the harmful side effects and addiction are forcing people to reconsider and look for other, more reliable options.

However, cannabis is supposed to be an alternative treatment that is cheaper, has outstanding effects, and is an all-natural solution. Since medical marijuana came into scientists' sight, more and more cannabis studies have shown that weed can help, as well as more and more people living with chronic stress and bipolar disorders have reported to find relief through it. In nearly every case, marijuana was a safer medication and just as effective as the synthetic prescription pain pills. Cannabis is even jokingly called “green Prozac.”

Neuroscientists from the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions found that the chemical compounds naturally produced by the body called endocannabinoids (CB1 and CB2) may be helpful in stabilizing the mood and easing depression. CB1 and CB2 bind to the same receptors as THC and regulate many essential psychological functions like memory, pain sensation, and appetite. Marijuana consumption stimulates the endocannabinoid system and increases neurogenesis, thus reducing the feelings of anxiety and stress. The effects are similar to many popular antidepressants but with no required daily use and withdrawal.

On the other side of the scale, there are some studies from the anti-marijuana perspective reporting that people are depressed because they consume the weed regardless of their predisposition to depression. Although the link between the use of medical cannabis and mental disorders has not been established, weed opponents argue that regular and long-term use of marijuana increases the risk of developing a depressed state.

Such outcomes are often based not on the real facts backed by doctors but on some unknown statistics. In fact, if you look at the number of healthy people using cannabis compared to the number of those treating depression without cannabis, it is obvious that the latter group does so to self-medicate. Marijuana itself is not likely to contribute to chronic diseases.

Some studies also indicate that marijuana is an effective medication for trauma-induced anxiety. One of such studies was published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology. The scientists found that CBD can help promote the extinction of learned fear responses. So, people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder can hope for early recovery.

As long as patients are consuming a proper dose of the quality strain, cannabis seems to be a very potent treatment. And as it becomes more popular with legalization, more studies on marijuana effects will hopefully be conducted, so we will finally see what is truth and what is fiction.

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