While most individuals experience sadness and even depression from time to time given life events and circumstances, Clinical or Major Depression is a form of developed mental illness that severely affects individuals. The symptoms of the ailment include significant loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness and guilt on a daily basis, difficulties in making decisions, lack of interest in personal responsibilities, chronic restlessness, insomnia and/or excessive sleep, persistent feelings of sorrow or loss, significant gain or loss of weight, and chronic thoughts of suicide and death.
Major/Clinical Depression can last for years, even the lifespan of the sufferer; Dysthymia, a type of chronic long lasting depression often accompanies Major Depression. The illness makes living a normal life for the individual very difficult and unfortunately there is no set cure or therapy that will remedy the ailment. There are, however, a wide variety of psychological therapies and medications that may help the sufferer cope with and ultimately get past the ailment and it’s debilitating symptoms.
Using Cannabis to Treat Depression
Cannabis is a complex medicinal plant that may actually be used to treat a variety of debilitating symptoms caused by a surprisingly large number of ailments. It’s usefulness as a non-lethal medicine (you cannot die from an overdose of cannabis) cannot be overstated and it’s versatility in terms of how it can be consumed and as to how it can be useful for so many illnesses is something to be excited about. However, it is important to remember that consulting with your primary care physician should be your first priority when considering incorporating cannabis into one’s medical regiment and that cannabis is to be used as an adjunct therapy and not a replacement. It is also your responsibility to communicate with your doctor as to how your use of cannabis has affected your health and of your progress with utilizing medical cannabis.
With that said, exciting studies have shown that cannabis and the non-psychoactive compound Cannabidiol (CBD) may be quite useful for treating individuals suffering from Depression for the following reasons: elevating mood levels to combat depression; reducing anxiety; and aiding with sleep to battle insomnia.
FINDINGS: EFFECTS OF CANNABIS ON DEPRESSION
Research has found that the endocannabinoid system is associated with the management of mood. A dysfunction in the system, which causes a reduction in cannabinoid concentrations, has been found to cause mood disorders and depression (Hill & Gorzalka, 2009) (Gorzalka & Hill, 2011) (Smaga, et al., 2014). This dysfunction is likely caused by chronic stress, as one study found that an exposure to stress significantly reduced endocannabinoid concentrations in women diagnosed with major depression (Hill, et al., 2009). These findings suggest that cannabinoids, like tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which are found in cannabis and influence the endocannabinoid system, could assist in the regulation of the endocannabinoid system and therefore offer therapeutic potential (Hill, et al., 2009) (Smaga, et al., 2014). Cannabinoids have been shown to promote new cell growth in the hippocampus, suggesting they could produce anxiolytic and antidepressant-like effects (Jiang, et al., 2005).
An animal trial found that the administration of cannabinoids was able to restore normal endocannabinoid function, which in turn stabilized mood and eased depression (Haj-Dahmane & Shen, 2014).
Cannabis could also assist in managing the health risks associated with depression. Depression has been linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and a higher resting systolic blood pressure. However, one study found that the administering of cannabinoids in women diagnosed with depression was effective at regulating their high blood pressure (Ho, et al., 2012).
It’s important to note that cannabis use has previously been associated with a greater risk of depressive symptoms (Bricker, et al., 2007). However, a survey found that adults that regularly use cannabis are not at a greater risk of depression than non-using adults (Denson & Earleywine, 2006). In addition, a 2012 study found that suicide rates decreased by an overall of 5% in states with medical cannabis approximately after legislation was adopted. Changes in cannabis laws caused an 11 percent decrease in the suicide rate of 20 through 29-year-old males and a 9% decrease in the suicide rate of 30 to 39-year-old males, with a sharp decrease shown in 15 to 19-year old males (Anderson, Rees & Sabia, 2012).
Beneficial Cannabinoids and Terpenoids Useful for Treating Depression
The cannabis plant offers a plethora of therapeutic benefits and contains cannabinoids and terpenoid compounds that are useful for tackling the symptoms of Clinical Depression.
The following chart denotes which cannabinoids and terpenoids work synergistically with each other for possible therapeutic benefit. It may be beneficial to seek out strains that contain these cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Americans For Safe Access Condition-based Booklets
These booklets summarize the history of medical cannabis and the recent research used to treat a variety of conditions, including Cancer, Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Pain, Arthritis, Gastro-Intestinal Disorders, Movement Disorders, HIV/AIDS, and conditions related to Aging. (About Americans For Safe Access)
A Patient's Guide to Medical Cannabis
This guide for patients who use medical marijuana (cannabis) covers everything you need to know. Created by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a non-profit advocacy organization, this publication will help individuals who are using or considering cannabis treatments to better educate themselves, their families and their physicians. ASA has been developing information resources about medical marijuana (cannabis) for patients, their families, doctors, and elected officials for over a decade.
Article: "How to Qualify for Medical Cannabis in New Mexico"
Understanding medical cannabis.Elemental Wellness Center, 2014 Jul.
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