Cannabis and Depression

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
Depression is actually a variety of disorders that affect approximately 18 million Americans. Women are twice as likely as men to suffer from some form of depression. Acuity, or seriousness, of depressive disorders ranges from mild to severe. Depression can be episodic, short lived or chronic. Depression is the leading cause of disability in America today costing the nation in excess of $47 billion dollars a year in lost productivity and health costs. Depression is a serious medical illness that can have numerous physical complications.

Depression may manifest as major depression, dysthymic disorder (a less severe form of major depression), or bipolar disorder (a type of depression that involves cycling between depressive and manic states). A host of factors are responsible for depression including:

* Biological- a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters and/or certain types of brain cell receptor sites is often seen in depression. Hormonal disorders including PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysthymic disorder) may influence or trigger depression. Depression may be linked to key biological events (i.e. post-partum depression or menopause).
* Genetic- Twin studies indicate that depression is often found grouped in families. Scientists have not isolated a single "depression" gene but feel a relatively small grouping of genes are involved in depression.
* Situational- Loss of a job, change in status, moving, divorce, and other major life stressors. Over use and chronic stimulation of the hypothalamic/pituitary/adrenal system (stress axis) has been implicated in depression.
* Chronic Illness and Disability- Depression occurs in the large majority of patients with long- term disease and disability. A traumatic diagnosis (i.e. cancer) may trigger depression.
* Personal Losses- The death of an immediate family member, close friend, or colleague.
* Medications- Many commonly prescribed medications may have depression as a side effect. Certainly tranquillizing medications including the Benzodiazapams may cause or deepen depression.
* Seasonal changes- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is sometimes seen where depressive episodes are related to winter or overcast weather.
* Alcohol and other drug abuse- Rates of depression in substance abusers are three times higher than the normal population. While many substance abusers are self-medicating a depression, studies show that chronic substance abuse itself leads to brain changes and depression.

Some recent studies have linked depression to chronic use of cannabis (several times/day for several years). This idea remains controversial. A current Australian study reviewed thousands of such cannabis users and found normal rates of depression once other factors such as alcohol use, gender, illness, etc., were accounted for.

Single agent prescription drugs called SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are the most common form of treatment. Drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil are in this category. These medications usually begin to work in one to four weeks. Side effects of SSRI’s can include sleeplessness, sexual dysfunction, and agitation. Older drugs called tricyclic antidepressants (i.e. Elavil) are also still used although their rate and severity of side effects is much higher than the SSRI’s. A new class of "bimodal" agents have recently been introduced (i.e. Serzone) that act on both the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. Some of these agents such as Paxil and Serzone are also used in panic disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Individual psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in particular are often helpful in mild to moderate depression. Often a combination of CBT and a short course of medication are sufficient to relieve moderate depression.

Severe forms of depression with psychotic symptoms sometimes respond to today’s modified ECT therapy (electro-convulsive therapy) but the track record of this formerly brutal treatment clouds use and analysis of this controversial treatment.

Bipolar disorders are often treated with lithium carbonate a so called "mood stabilizer" lithium can lessen manic episodes but must be closely monitored as this metallic salt is highly toxic with side effects that include nausea, vomiting, and tremor. Patients undergoing lithium treatment require frequent blood tests to insure the correct blood level is maintained. Recently anti-seizure drugs such as Valproate and Neurontin have been used alone or in combination with lithium. These powerful drugs may help but can produce mental dullness. Neither lithium nor anti-seizure medications seem to help the symptoms associated with the depressive cycle of bipolar disease. The SSRI’s and tricyclic drugs are usually avoided in fear of aggravating manic symptoms. When manic episodes include psychotic delusions an anti-psychotic medication is often added. Anti-anxiety drugs of the Benzodiazapam class may be added where agitation is a prominent feature. The medication management of bipolar disease is complex and can be hazardous.

In evaluating the efficacy of prescription medications in depression it is important to remember that many of the current clinical studies have been financed largely or wholly by the pharmaceutical industry.

Symptoms of depression include:

* Sadness for prolonged periods. Fits of crying
* Sleeplessness or excessive sleeping
* Loss of appetite or excessive overeating
* Sexual dysfunction
* Anadonia or the loss of pleasure in normal activities
* Feelings of despair or hopeless
* Feelings of low self esteem, guilt, or self loathing
* Ideas of hurting oneself or thoughts of suicide
* Unexplained lack of energy
* Chronic pain that doesn’t respond to treatment
* Anxious mood and irritability
* Trouble concentrating

In bipolar disease the above noted symptoms may be present during the depressive cycle while the "manic" cycle may include features such as:

* Excitability
* Rapid thoughts
* A reduced "need" for sleep
* Inflated self esteem or personal delusions
* Irritable mood
* Hyperactivity

Even a few of the preceding symptoms can indicate what is called a "clinical" depression if they persist for more than just a few weeks. A clinical depression rarely improves without a medical intervention and some combination of treatment.

Suicidal thoughts or impulses should always be taken seriously. The "truism" that suicidal patients won’t disclose their suicidal thoughts and that those who do are simply seeking attention is absolutely false. Seriously depressed patients may lack the "energy" for suicide, which is why the initial treatment and lifting of depression can be a particularly hazardous time. Patients who have a "plan" and the means to suicide are most likely to actually attempt harming themselves. One in every eight patients hospitalized for depression actually commits suicide.

Numerous patients report significant improvement and stabilization with their bipolar disorder when they utilize adjunctive therapy with medical cannabis. While some mental health professionals worry about the impact of cannabis on aggravating manic states, most bipolar patients trying cannabis find they "cycle" less often and find significant improvement in overall mood. Bipolar disorders vary tremendously in the time spent in the depressive versus manic states. Those who experience extended depressive episodes are more likely to be helped with cannabis.

Patients who use cannabis to "relax" may be treating the anxiousness sometimes associated with depression. Cannabis aids the insomnia sometimes present in depression and can improve appetite. Better pain control with cannabis can reduce chronic pain related depression. While cannabis cannot yet be considered a primary treatment of major depression it may improve mood when used under physicians supervision and in combination with therapy and/or SSRI’s.

There is currently a debate as to which "strain" of cannabis is most appropriate for the adjunctive treatment of depression. Since symptoms are so individualistic it is hard to determine what strain is right expect empirically. In general Sativa dominant strains tend to be more "up" and Indica dominant strains more relaxing.

Patients themselves are often the best judges of whether or not cannabis helps relieve the symptoms of depression. A poorly educated or narrow-minded physician may think any use of cannabis to be a substance abuse related aspect of depression. More enlightened psychiatrists (i.e. Lester Grinspoon of Harvard Medical School) appreciate the often beneficial aspects of cannabis therapy.

Perhaps the most reliable yardstick of the efficacy of medical cannabis in the treatment of depression is whether or not specific aspects of functionality improve. Functionality includes aspects such as self-care ability, job or school attendance, social interaction, normal sleeping, and cognitive skills.

More about Depression can be found at Intelihealth (the website of Harvard Medical School: InteliHealth:

Depression References: MEDLINEplus: Depression

Jay R. Cavanaugh, Ph.D.
I've been suffering from chronic depression and anxiety for many years, and it's a horrible combination to live with. The regular use of cannabis has had a very positive effect on my ability to operate normally. Unfortunately I live in an area that has yet to reform unrealistic marijuana laws, and have been discouraged enough to start looking for opportunities to move as soon as I am given the chance to relocate. Thank everybody for what you do!
Best most effective strains to treat Depression : Since i did a study using "Leafly" on this link:The Best Cannabis Strains for Treating Depression | Leafly but using their own information and digging much deeper found the ultimate best of the best to beat depression. 1st being the best. When you see a strain, look below and click "medical" you will see how many are 100% best for depression or close to it, while some they originally list are much less effective:This list is the best of the best for treating depression. List from highest (1st)% to lowest (last) : White LSD , Maui Wowie , - Chernobyl ,Island Sweet Skunk, Acapulco Gold , Tutankhamon ,Agent Orange ,Sour LSD , Blue Mystic ,Durban Poison , Chemdawg ,Pineapple Express , Lemon Kush , Skywalker OG , Sour Diesel ,Jack Herer, Amnesia Haze , Gorilla Glue4 , Trainwreck , Cannatonic , On "Leafly" you will find many more strains but they are much less effective.
What are the Causes of Depression?
  • Abuse — physical, sexual or emotional
  • Conflict — with family, friends or loved ones
  • Genetics
  • Isolation
  • Loss — such as the death of a loved one
  • Major transitions or life events
  • Serious illness
  • Stress — chronic stress is one of the leading causes of depression
  • Substance abuse
I have had so much trouble with the side-effects from these drugs, I'm pretty close to packin it in and rely on my edibles. Never down when I'm high:)
Hi, i grew for 18 months more than enough for my own use in my one room apartment. but the meds i take detracted from the grass effect so i stopped growing 7 months ago....G-d IS in the details of His creations!
What are the Causes of Depression?
  • Abuse — physical, sexual or emotional
  • Conflict — with family, friends or loved ones
  • Genetics
  • Isolation
  • Loss — such as the death of a loved one
  • Major transitions or life events
  • Serious illness
  • Stress — chronic stress is one of the leading causes of depression
  • Substance abuse
Add to the list chronic intestinal problems 24/7/365, halitosis so bad that it bothers ME! Laziness (it could be that some of us LIKE having our own chronic illness, or don't like to work 10 hours a day 7 days a week on a Chinese electronics factory assembly line for 60 cents a day.) Maybe the 7 million Guatemalans eating out of trash cans when they actually do find a bit of food get depressed because they have Rickets disease and running sores. I met a few hundred depressed citizens in Augusta,Maine who sleep out on the street all summer, spring and fall, but the church they sleep in during winter cannot afford heating so its the same game. Heck, I won 2.7 million Canadian Dollars in a party raffle and NOW I am really depressed. Just realized that I don't deserve it.


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Say what?! Lol

I believe cannabis is not the answer to depression, but ultimately causes it to get worse. Of course, if you're feeling blue, toking up can make ya happy! But that's not beating/curing/fixing depression.

I appreciate the advice. However, I have other issues like pain, sleep disorders and appetite issues.

Believe me, wife prefers me dosing. Encourages it actually. Since she's the person I spend the most time with, I shouldn't ignore that input.
Say what?! Lol

I believe cannabis is not the answer to depression, but ultimately causes it to get worse.
Nothing is the answer to depression, the pharmaceutical industry supplies legally prescribed drugs which have been shown to increase the risk of suicIde and self harm, cannabis does not have these side effects.
Did you get paid to post this?
Believe me, wife prefers me dosing. Encourages it actually. Since she's the person I spend the most time with, I shouldn't ignore that input.

Yes, can't argue with that! :laugh: Certainly want to get along with the wife. Sorry to hear about your pain, and of course whatever helps, helps :)

Nothing is the answer to depression, the pharmaceutical industry supplies legally prescribed drugs which have been shown to increase the risk of suicIde and self harm, cannabis does not have these side effects.
Did you get paid to post this?

Paid to post? Haha nope :) Just one person with a different opinion from yours. I absolutely agree with the pharmaceuticals and prescribed drugs stuff.. Can't argue that for a second! But I do not agree with the statement "nothing is the answer to depression". I believe there are answers that have endless proven success stories. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a big one that comes to mind.

But either way, I think we're all here cause we love weeeeed :yummy::lot-o-toke: Though I do stick my original opinion.. not the best long term answer to depression. And it is just an opinion of course :)
I am also experienced in this. I am suffer from anxiety and depression. But now I am feel better for the causes of using cannabis.
WOW this gave me alot of insight about myself, and I fall into about all; factors, its hard to admit it to yourself, but all those factors was me, and I still have those moments of wildness and whats associated with bi-polar, but its the first time ive read summits like that in regards to this, but yeah its been a struggle I have good and bad, but its only now Im understanding all this MH stuff, an anxiety etc, had an hard life lost 2 brothers at young age, and the grief and guilt eat me up for many yrs, as I didnt understand any of it, the grieving process the effects of this sent me off the rails, as I didnt understand any thing about it or MH, and it drove me crazy in my head not understanding it, and how it was making me feel mentally, so I was like your man deal with it, and I couldnt just kept it all in for many yrs, in the processing of I was lost, I lost myself, it was like I had died to inside after losing a younger sibling, and my life nose dived, ( thats another story) but cos I didnt understand grief or MH or any thing like this, I just thought I was Crazy, and I was at a point were enough was enough,
then I just reached out on FB to speak to someone as I was at my lowest, and now just by that action I was saved, someone reached out to me, and we spoke and I let it all out, when previously tried the hurt was just to much, to talk, but for what ever reason I got it out slowly over time, and now my life is on a good path not carrying that burden no more, and ive been able to re-build my life, But i just wish, what I know now, i did back then 27yrs ago, but now letting go opening up and talking about how i felt, an what i was thinking, as been that reason all this is now possible, so knowing what i went through, and if I can help anyone whos been in similar situation, would be to talk and get it out dont worry about others what they say, cos by talking broke that cycle for me, and understanding MH and its effects, as help me find myself, that boy who got lost at 15, but the main reason I was saved was that person who reached out to me, was the first person who actually LISTENED TO ME an thanks to the help of cannabis ive got a life to live now, so sorry for going on, but if it helps 1 person great, as I had no clue still trying understanding it now, but from such a better place
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