By / October 12, 2023

Depression Treatment With Medical Cannabis – Is It Possible?

Depression is currently one of the most frequently diagnosed mental disorders that takes away the will to live and make daily functioning difficult. Treatment primarily involves taking antidepressants and psychotherapy, but there’s also a lot of discussion about the positive impact of cannabis on this disease. Check whether the properties of cannabis can reduce the symptoms of depression and improve the quality of patients’ lives.

Causes of Depression

Depression is a disease related to the disturbance in the balance of neurotransmitter secretion and flow, which are responsible for emotions and mood. Such a state is most often brought about by experienced events, such as:

  • death of a close person,
  • divorce or separation from a partner,
  • severe illness (e.g., cancer).

The likelihood of developing depression also increases in people exposed to chronic stress, young people entering adulthood, older people, and women in the perinatal period.

Symptoms of Depression

Chemical imbalances in the brain lead to a prolonged deterioration of mood and the feeling of various kinds of ailments both mentally and physically.

Common Symptoms

Among the main symptoms of depression are:

  • anxiety states,
  • feeling of unease,
  • sleep problems,
  • low self-esteem,
  • a negative attitude towards the world,
  • a feeling of indifference,
  • loss of joy from life,
  • difficulty concentrating,
  • reduced appetite,
  • fatigue,
  • suicidal thoughts.

A long-term presence of several of the above symptoms may indicate depression, but for an accurate diagnosis, consultation with a doctor is recommended.

How Cannabis Affects the Body?

Cannabis affects the body through the endocannabinoid system, which is one of the basic systems of the human body. It participates in many functions and processes, such as appetite, sleep, immunity, metabolism, and mood, and is also responsible for maintaining internal balance.

Understanding the Endocannabinoid System

The endocannabinoid system consists of:

  • endocannabinoids,
  • metabolic enzymes,
  • cannabinoid receptors.

Cannabinoid receptors are distributed throughout the body. They are present in every system and organ of the human body, including the nervous system and the brain. Cannabinoids THC and CBD contained in cannabis connect with the receptors, affecting the body and showing health properties in the form of, among others, restoring the chemical balance in the brain – the main cause of depression.

This action of cannabis on the body improves mood and alleviates other ailments associated with depression, such as reduced appetite, sleep problems, or prolonged lack of energy.

Medical Cannabis in Treating Depression

In the treatment of depression, medical cannabis is used more and more often due to its comprehensive therapeutic action. However, choosing the right variety of cannabis is essential for symptom significance. In the case of depression, cannabis with a high content of cannabidiol CBD is the best.

Research Insights

Many studies conducted on patients with depression have shown that over half of the patients who took medical cannabis felt an improvement in mood. Medical cannabis also positively affected other ailments related to depression, including anxiety disorders, sleep problems, reduced appetite, and stress.

Terpenes in Cannabis and Depression

Cannabis contains many compounds that more or less affect the body. Besides cannabinoids, which are present in cannabis in the highest concentrations, terpenes also deserve attention.

The Role of Terpenes

Terpenes are volatile compounds responsible for the taste and smell of plants. They also show numerous health properties and enhance the action of cannabinoids, commonly referred to as the synergy effect.

So far, over 20,000 terpenes have been discovered, and each of them differs in action. In the case of depression, linalool is especially crucial, possessing antidepressant properties.

Linalool’s action is similar to the antidepressant effect of CBD. This terpene captures serotonin and increases its level in the brain, improving mood as a result. It also activates noradrenergic receptors, properties used in the action mechanism of antidepressant drugs.

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Depression Treatment With Cannabis

Substances found in medical cannabis, such as cannabinoids and terpenes, are successfully used in treating depression. However, achieving the best therapeutic effects is essential to selecting appropriate cannabis varieties and a short duration of their administration.

Medical cannabis improves patients’ well-being and also positively affects other ailments related to depression. Its use effectively reduces anxiety states, insomnia, and fatigue, and also improves appetite, as confirmed in numerous clinical studies.

(Featured image by Nik Shuliahin via Unsplash)

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