Can Marijuana Treat Depression and PTSD?

The Cannabis Writings Photo

By Wes Annac, Culture of Awareness

As the medicinal benefits of marijuana continue to be brought to light, people with a wide array of ailments are being given the opportunity to treat their symptoms in a way that seems unconventional but was actually common throughout history.

The cannabis plant has always been used for various purposes including medicine, and society is finally catching up with what’s been known about it for centuries.

Unfortunately, its medical use is only allowed in states where its legal, and patients who require this medicine are forced to go without it or risk legal consequences. These are law abiding citizens who have no interest in breaking society’s rules, but they have to break the law just to get what they need.

Marijuana’s medicinal benefits aren’t limited to the body, and evidence is beginning to show that it helps the mind too. This is indicated by the endocannabinoids in our brain, and everything’s usually okay if our endocannabinoid levels are where they’re meant to be.

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Stress, which contributes to depression for many people, drops the brain’s endocannabinoid levels.

Since cannabis can restore these levels, it could very well treat the symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Steven Maxwell at Waking Times explains.

“Recent scientific studies regarding the use of cannabis (marijuana) and its healing powers are further disproving the government’s biased and inaccurate stance against its medical use.

“The government refers to marijuana as a ‘gateway’ drug to harder substances and schedules it along side them even though it has proven to be safer than alcohol.

“Taking these claims into consideration, scientists across the country have taken it upon themselves to research the chemical makeup of marijuana and prove to the public the benefits that it holds.

“Through the research of endocannabinoids, a stress-regulating chemical found in the brain that is also found in marijuana, scientists are producing evidence to prove that marijuana usage could benefit those who suffer from depression.” (1)

Steven also shares an unsettling statistic about depression.

“Chronic depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in America with about 6.7% (14 Billion) of the country’s population suffering from the disease.

“With depression being such a common disease in America, scientists from the University at Buffalo have conducted research which claims that endocannabinoids, a chemical makeup found in the brain, are similar to the chemical makeup of marijuana.” (2)

Depression can make a person feel fatigued, unconfident, hopeless and utterly sad for seemingly endless amounts of time, and for some people, it goes on to the point that they become numb. They don’t necessarily feel pain, but they don’t feel joy or happiness either.

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They feel empty, and this could have to do with depleted endocannabinoid levels in their brain.

It might not be the only cause, but it could be one of the biggest contributing factors.

Steven tells us that a study was performed by introducing animals to a stressful environment and recording their brain’s endocannabinoid levels. The levels depleted when the animals were stressed, but they were restored and the animals’ stress reduced when marijuana was administered.

“Using animals as test subjects, scientists Samir Haj-Dahmane, PhD and Roh-Yu Shen, PhD studied the effects that stress held on the animals.

“When introduced to a stressful environment, the animals’ level of endocannabinoids dropped significantly, leading the animals to feel stress. When introduced to marijuana, the levels of endocannabinoids increased and the animals began to show signs of relieved stress.

“While Haj-Dahmane cautions that this research is still in its early stages, it is an idea to consider. If the cause of stress is a reduction in endocannabinoids, and marijuana usage increases endocannabinoids in the bodies of animals, does it not make sense that marijuana could potentially be used medicinally to reduce stress in humans as well?” (3)

It does make sense, and in my opinion, this is one of many of this plant’s uses that are finally being talked about.

Like Steven mentioned, we shouldn’t be quick to claim marijuana treats depression since the research has just started. As more research is done, however, I think scientists will discover that the countless anecdotal claims of cannabis helping depression and other illnesses are legitimate.

Steven also cites an article from Huffington post which mentions a potential link between heavy marijuana use and the development of depression, while encouraging mindfulness for anyone who wants to use the plant to alleviate the symptoms of a mental illness.

“Furthering the idea of using marijuana to combat depression, this article from Huffington Post piggybacks on the aforementioned University of Buffalo study looking further into the complex makings of diagnosed depression.

Huffington Post posed a critical question in the closing of their article stating, ‘some research has suggested that regular and heavy marijuana smokers are at a higher risk for depression, although a causal link between cannabis use and depression has not been established.’

“Depression is a very complex illness because the factors that cause it are so widespread and depend on instances that have happened in an individual’s life.

“While there are no confirmed cases of heavy marijuana usage causing or relieving depression, it is important to consider all aspects of the illness to better regulate and learn what dosages, frequencies, and strains of marijuana can better help those suffering from depression.” (4)

Plenty of people are convinced marijuana alleviates depression, and we’ll know for sure as the research continues to come in.

It’ll hopefully be less biased than it has been in the past since so much progress is finally being made, and we’ll know more about marijuana’s effectiveness in alleviating depression and other mental illnesses in time.

Credit: kingstoncompassion.org

Now that we’ve learned how it restored endocannabinoid levels in animals subjected to stress, we’ll look at how it can potentially help PTSD.

Steven cites an article from Science Daily about a study wherein sufferers of PTSD were asked about their experiences. Side effects of the illness were significantly reduced in the ones who had been using medical marijuana, and like the previous study, this one is at an early stage.

“Focusing on PTSD, another mental illness that affects many Americans, this article from Science Daily discusses the usage of marijuana in individuals suffering from PTSD and how their symptoms have declined over the time of their usage.

“The researchers from New Mexico (the first state to legalize medicinal marijuana use) used the ‘CAPS’ method, which is essentially a method that is used with PTSD patients to ask questions about a traumatic experience that a patient experienced and measure their response on a 0-4 scale.

“Researchers learned from this experiment that those patients who received medical marijuana showed a 75% reduction in all three areas of PTSD side effects.

“As stated with other research results, these studies are still in the developmental process and require more testing and circumstantial research to truly validate the correlation between medical marijuana usage and a decrease in depression among people.” (5)

These studies gave hopeful results, and what’s been found so far is promising. The best thing scientists can do now is to build on these studies and learn more about this plant’s benefits and drawbacks; medical or otherwise.

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As Steven mentions, cannabis would be a preferable alternative to the many antidepressants with unwelcome side effects that are pushed onto the masses.

“As discussed on Natural Blaze, antidepressants come with long, unattractive lists of side effects, and are extremely risky to mix with each other or other substances (such as alcohol).

“SSRI antidepressants, as discussed in the article, bring on unattractive side effects such as irritability and violent outbursts, but they are not alone. Other antidepressants can cause mood swings, weight loss or gain, schizophrenia, and other side effects, while marijuana causes none of these.” (6)

Cannabis is a much safer medicine than these unnatural and unhelpful antidepressants, and they just don’t work for a growing number of people who are searching for a safer treatment for miserable physical and mental illnesses.

Many people who suffer from mental illness have no idea that there’s a potential treatment that’s much healthier than any of Big Pharma’s drugs, and the most dedicated anti-marijuana crusaders are changing the way they see it and opening up to its healing capabilities.

Credit: drugrehab.us

Those with depression who are aware of marijuana’s healing properties look forward to the day when this safe, natural and effective medicine is made available.

We can make it happen by supporting the research and striving to change the laws surrounding medical marijuana in every state so more research can be done and more people can become aware.

We’ve just begun to discover what this plant can do for us, and the sooner we can stop condemning it and take an honest look at it, the sooner we can get proper natural treatment for those in need while enjoying its widespread industrial, societal and even spiritual benefits.

Footnotes:

  1. “Recent Studies Find Cannabis Highly Effective Against Depression, PTSD” by Steven Maxwell, Waking Times, January 4, 2016 – http://www.wakingtimes.com/2016/01/04/recent-studies-find-cannabis-to-be-effective-against-depression-ptsd/
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