Depression & Medical Marijuana

Depression is a mental disorder characterized by ongoing gloomy and negative feelings.  Individuals in a state of depression feel that they are somehow losing, or missing out on life and that the future seems bleak. The effects of depression extend to the sufferer's social circles and affects the quality of life of everyone intimately involved.  In healthy people, depressive feelings are transient, they bounce back after depressing events such as, the loss of a partner or their job, a family health issue, etc..

A normal reaction to life's depressing events is to lay low and gather mental and physical energy; get a good sleep, take a break, meditate, talk about issues with friends or a mentor.  Once a plan of action or acceptance of the situation is in place, they move forward. In time, depression lifts, that is, for some....

 

“Those who consume Marijuana occasionally or even daily, have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried Marijuana.”

--  Decreased Depression in Marijuana Users, Journal Addictive Behaviors


Depression that won't go away

In the case of chronic depression, normal coping strategies do not work.  People with chronic depression are psychologically and physiologically stuck.   It turns out that most mental disorders, including depression, have a significant biochemical component.  Researchers have found that the neurotransmitter system's on/off switches can malfunction, as a result of the body's over-produce molecules that cause excessive feelings of hopelessness and impending doom. 

 

“Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression.  Using compounds derived from Cannabis — Marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”

--  Haj-Dahmane, PHD, Biochemist


Depression is Insidious

  • 3.4% of people with major depression die by suicide
  • 60% of people who die by suicide had depression or another mood disorder

 

"That's the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it's impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key."

--  Elizabeth Wurtzel, Author, Prozac Nation


Treatments for Depression - Playing Russian Roulette

Standard treatment for depression include psychotherapy, counseling, electroconvulsive therapy and pharmaceutical drugs.   Serious side effects from electroshock and drug therapy, can be akin to playing Russian roulette.  Adverse reactions include, insanity, suicide, self-harm and full blown psychosis.

Medical Marijuana can have side effects too. High doses of the psychoactive component, THC, can make depression worse in some patients. However,  proper (lower) dosing with Cannabis strains high in THC, often afford effective relief from depression without significant side effects.

 

“In the animal models we studied, we saw that chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids, leading to depression-like behavior.” 

-- Samir Haj-Dahmane, PhD, RIA researcher


How EndoCannabinoids affect Brain Function and Depression

Endocannabinoids are bio-chemicals produced within the human body that affect receptors that control many brain, nervous and immune system immune system functions.  Cannabinoids, components of Medical Cannabis, mimic natural Endocannabinoids, affecting motor control, cognition, emotion and behavior. 

In a study conducted by The Institute for the Study of Labor concluded that  “Marijuana can be an effective treatment for depression and other mood disorders” and incredibly, there was a sharp decrease in the suicide rate among teenage males who consumed Cannabis.

MRI scans of depression patients showed that THC reduced brain activity related to anxiety and fear in subjects that were exposed to threats.


Cannabis, Terpenes and Depression

Other molecules present in Cannabis called Terpenes, have been found to produce clinical uplifting effects, without the psychoactivity of Marijuana strains high in THC.  Terpenes are known to orthodox and alternative medicine for their many medicinal properties. Examples of medicinal terpenes include, spearmint, peppermint and essential oils.

BCP, or beta-caryophyllene is a "Cannabis" terpene that affects endocannabinoid CB2 receptors in the brain and preclinical studies suggest efficacy in the treatment of mood disorders.

 

"β-Caryophyllene, a CB2 receptor agonist produces multiple behavioral changes relevant to anxiety and depression in mice.  Taken together, these preclinical results suggest that CB2 receptors may provide alternative therapeutic targets for the treatment of anxiety and depression. The possibility that BCP may ameliorate the symptoms of these mood disorders offers exciting prospects for future studies."


MMJDOCTORONLINE Notes:  If you have any question about this article or your condition, please feel free to contact us. Our licensed Medical Cannabis doctors provide MMJ Recommendations and 420 evaluations.  We also provide MMJ cards that allow our clients access to Medical Marijuana at any licensed dispensary in the State of California.


Further Reading - Research Breakthroughs

 

Endocannabinoid system dysfunction in mood and related disorders

Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis Sativa

The endocannabinoid system and the treatment of mood and anxiety disorders

 

Endocannabinoid signaling in the etiology and treatment of major depressive illness

Antidepressant-like effects of cannabidiol in mice: possible involvement of 5-HT1A receptors

Putative role of endocannabinoid signaling in the etiology of depression and actions of antidepressants

Antidepressant-like effect of delta9-tetrahydrocannabinol and other cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L

Circulating endocannabinoids and N-acyl ethanolamines are differentially regulated in major depression and following exposure to social stress

The therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system for the development of a novel class of antidepressants

Antidepressants and changes in concentration of endocannabinoids and N-acylethanolamines in rat brain structures

Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa

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