States across the state passing laws allowing the medical use of marijuana, there has been much debate as to what conditions patients should be eligible for approved use. Depression is one of those conditions that has been discussed, and therefore research is mixed. Depression and marijuana use often exist side-by-side in patients, but teasing apart their relationship to at least one another may be a chicken-and-egg problem researcher who has yet to unravel.
Can Marijuana Help Treat Depression?
A February 2015 study by researchers at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that chemical compounds within the brain referred to as endocannabinoids, which are linked to feelings of overall well-being, activate equivalent receptors as many of the active compounds in marijuana.
In testing on rats , the researchers observed that the assembly of endocannabinoids in persistent stress states was smaller than in usual settings. They concluded that cannabis chemicals could also be useful in restoring normal endocannabinoid function and alleviating symptoms of depression.
Drawbacks of Treating Depression With Marijuana
Although there’s some evidence that marijuana may have antidepressant properties, many argue there also are some important drawbacks to its usage.
There is a well known phenomenon called “amotivational syndrome,” during which chronic cannabis users become apathetic, socially withdrawn, and perform at A level of everyday functioning well below their capacity before their marijuana use.2 There also are other studies that indicate that marijuana is related to an increased risk for depression.
Depression and Marijuana Use May Have Same Root Cause
Most health care researchers and practitioners accept the idea that genetic, environmental, or other factors are the basis explanation for depression. Some believe that these same causes can cause marijuana use. Participants during a 1997 pilot study reported that one among the explanations they continued to smoke marijuana was that they felt it relieved their symptoms of depression and anxiety.3
Some research indicates that marijuana users (especially regular or heavy users) are more likely to be diagnosed with depression than those that don’t use the drug. But research has did not conclude that there’s a causation relationship at play: it’s not clear that depression directly results from marijuana use.
In some patients with a predisposition to other mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, and manic depression , marijuana use may function a trigger for the disease’s expression. There is also some evidence that teenagers who attempt suicide could also be more likely to possess used marijuana than those that haven’t made an effort .
As with marijuana use and depression, more research is required to raised understand these associations. As states still pass medical marijuana laws and refine the standards for eligibility, more research will likely go further toward exploring the connection between depression and marijuana use.
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