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What we know about cannabis and depression

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Depression is The most common mental health problemsAnd cannabis The most commonly used federal illegal drug in the United States. People use cannabis to self-treat many things, including mood disorders. It is usually based on anecdotal evidence and, in some cases, research. However, the lack of robust pharmaceutical guidelines for these uses means that it can be difficult to tell if cannabis is helping or exacerbating the problem.

It should be noted that whenever cannabis appears in the medical context, it is practically little known. how The drug works — partly because its history of bans made it difficult to study. We are at a dead end and hard science is limited by federal policy.

When it comes to treating depression with cannabis, the lack of hard data is detrimental to those who may potentially benefit. How much is it? Which cannabinoids are ideal for treatment and which cannabinoids exacerbate symptoms? What does the latest research teach us? (But first, it’s If you are considering treating depression with cannabis, it is important to consider other treatments and treatments, especially if the symptoms are severe. )

What research teaches us

Depression is a rarely specific condition. There are multiple types with different symptoms. Depression can also occur in people with chronic pain. There are too many factors to recommend a universal treatment option. (Seasonal depression is very different from mood swings in bipolar disorder, and each treatment follows.)

The same is true for cannabis. When we talk about thousands of cultivars and plants with chemical changes based on their growth and processing conditions, there is no universality. These unknowns will make research difficult, even if legality is not an issue, and that is why science is now divided into the use of cannabis for depression and many other medical problems. ..

Like Leafly Emma Stone recently paid attention“So far, there are no clinical trials focused on cannabis as a treatment for depression, so it’s currently difficult to draw definitive conclusions about whether this plant is useful or harmful to people with depression. is.”

surely, Research from 2020 “There is evidence that cannabis use can lead to the development of depression, but strong evidence shows the opposite association. That is, depression can lead to the onset or increased frequency of cannabis use. There is sex. ”

Another analysis of years of research Under controlled production conditions, cannabis has proved promising in the idea that it can be fine-tuned to treat certain disorders. “Currently, in its early stages, there is promising evidence of medical cannabis in the treatment of various mental disorders,” the analysis said. “Although supportive findings have emerged for some important isolates, clinicians need to be aware of a set of normative and occupational safety considerations, especially when starting high-dose THC prescribing. I have.”

Anecdotal evidence in the absence of studies

Some practitioners are more bullish than that.Eileen Connietsney, New York-based writer CBD Healing: How Cannabidiol Can Change Your Health Without Highs Is a registered nurse and board-certified patient advocate who has been providing cannabis-based treatment guidance to patients since around 2008. Keep in mind that careful use of plants generally feels low risk, but she does not. It cures everything and is not a suitable treatment for all conditions.

She believes that people are eager to understand the potential of cannabis as a treatment for mental illness, simply because many are experiencing depression, but the answer is still is not. “Patients deserve to understand how the drug affects them in order to weigh the benefits or limitations they may encounter,” she said. “A clear answer will help everyone involved. Unfortunately, there is little clinical evidence to support the use of cannabis for depression.”

Much of the evidence we must trust is anecdotal, but at least some have been studied. Konieczny 2018 study of patient-reported data From Strainprint, an app that allows users to track cannabis use by strain / breed and symptom, says: People using low THC / high CBD strains of cannabis had significantly less symptoms than those who primarily used THC strains. “

But there was a catch. “When observed over time, these same individuals noticed a recurrence of depression with longer and more frequent cannabis. This is because using cannabis for depression has a short-term effect. While targeted, it may suggest that it may exacerbate baseline depression in the long run. “

Before actually understanding how cannabis is associated with depression, how the drug affects the body’s endogenous cannabinoid system, and aides, or how cannabis signals that system. Need to understand more about what to send.

People who treat cannabis as a creative or practical service provider provide unique anecdotal evidence that cannabis can be used to treat depression.Photographer and writer Jordan Wright Cannabis for creativeShe said she was taking antidepressants for most of her adulthood and sometimes supplemented with cannabis, with mixed results.

“It can get out of an acute relapse in a painless and predictable way,” she said. “It can have the same effect as listening to a sad song in a miserable time. It amplifies things in the wrong direction. It all depends on the situation, timing, tension, dosage, and your point of view. . “

Of course, no antidepressant that works the same for all patients, even those that have been extensively studied. Some people try some of them before finding the one that seems to best treat their mental health problems without causing too many unwanted side effects. However, Wright believes that the stigma surrounding cannabis means that most people refrain from thinking of cannabis as a medicine at all. “Once I blamed the pot in my mind and in my life, I could see it as a positive tool for better mental health,” she said. “If you’re working with a psychologist or psychiatrist, be honest about the use of cannabis. If you know it’s something that helps you, support cannabis or At least it’s important to have a doctor who accepts it. “

In Wright’s experience, finding the right treatment was important. “I’m fortunate to find antidepressants and doses that can make me feel different emotions, but when my symptoms get worse, I prefer cannabis to something like Xanax. The pot is edge. Take [my] Intrusive thoughts and painful emotions [I] You can ponder the problem and be more proactive in finding healthy patterns and solutions. “

Highlight founder Daniel OlivaresThe platform for condemning the use of cannabis for wellness is also an advocate of moderation and mindfulness, telling Lifehacker in an email: Harmful and that self-awareness helps me stay honest and intentional. “

Without reliable scientific research, anyone looking for cannabis to treat depression would have to do it alone, but Olivares believes he can do so responsibly. .. “I really believe in the power of cannabinoids to help manage the symptoms of depression … when consumed intentionally and with self-awareness,” she said.

What we know about cannabis and depression

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