Although depression isn’t typically featured on these lists, marijuana has been found to have many qualities which are useful in fighting depression. As with anything, the effects vary widely and are contingent on the individual. In some patients, marijuana has helped fight depression, and in others, the use of marijuana has led to a worsening of symptoms. Carrying on with that understanding, here are five ways that medical marijuana can help those battling depression.
1 – Mood Stabilization
Medical marijuana patients suffering from depression often cite marijuana’s mood stabilizing qualities as being particularly helpful. When a patient is feeling an unusually deep wave of depression come on, they may use marijuana sparingly to alleviate this. Using marijuana as a mood stabilizer can have some unintended negative consequences, such as dependence, so supervised or carefully monitored use is extremely important.
2 – Increases Serotonin
Marijuana is well a known booster of serotonin, the chemical in our brains that regulates mood, behavior, and sleep, among other things. By boosting serotonin levels, marijuana typically provides a temporary alleviation of stress and a care-free feeling. This effect can combat depression in the short term.
3 – Chronic Stress
Those suffering from chronic stress are more likely to benefit from medical marijuana than those suffering from sporadic waves of depression. Marijuana, especially indica strains, provides some natural relief from the relentless burden of chronic stress. For many people held down by the weight of such stress, even a momentary release can be potentially life-saving.
4 – Endocannabinoids
Endocannabinoids are a naturally occurring chemical in the brain. Stress, especially chronic stress, can lead to the suppression of the production of these chemicals, and in turn, bring about depression. Scientists are still studying the effects of THC on the endocannabinoid system. The most recent studies show that using marijuana can assist in restoring normal levels of endocannabinoids, and in turn, fight depression caused by this imbalance.
5 – A Supplement To Psychotherapy
Marijuana may be used as a supplement to psychotherapy. The ability of marijuana to allow its user to explore altered states of mind (however mild), can prove to be helpful when exploring sensitive areas in psychotherapy or psychiatry. For instance, the patient may be harboring deep-seeded emotions they are unaware of, which are at the root of their depression. Marijuana could be the proverbial “key” that unlocks the door to these emotions or memories. This is done under the supervision of the therapist or doctor.