Marijuana gives a pleasant high feeling that many people find really calms them down and gives them an emotional boost. But did you know that it also can have longer lasting positive effects that can help people with mental health issues?
Cannabis can be used to treat both depression and anxiety. It has been noted that fewer people who use cannabis regularly have depressive symptoms than people who do not use cannabis (http://www.theweedblog.com/top-5-mental-conditions-treated-with-marijuana/). This is a correlation, not a causation, but it does indicate the possibility that cannabis use might cause lower rates of depression. In addition, there have been some preliminary trials that have indicated the effectiveness of cannabis in actually treating depression.
Of course, treating depression with cannabis is kind of like putting a bandaid on an infected cut. It can help you feel better and it can mask some of the signs and symptoms very well, but it does not treat the underlying cause. The best course of action would be to use medical marijuana to take the hopeless edge off the depression while also getting help through counseling to change thought patterns and identify the root causes of one’s depression.
When it comes to anxiety, cannabis has a calming effect almost instantly, when it is vaped or smoked. It can take a bit longer with other methods of application, and up to an hour if it is ingested. Even after the high feeling wears off, cannabis helps the brain not spiral out of control. It slows down thought patterns, which is helpful for anxiety because so often anxiety is characterized by rapid thoughts and neural overload.
CBD vs THC for depression and anxiety
Not all strains of marijuana are created equal, when it comes to treating depression and anxiety. Understanding what strain and what concentration is right for you depends on what you need to treat and how your body reacts to CBD and THC.
THC is the compound that makes you feel high and euphoric. Many marijuana strains are bred to have a super high concentration of THC because people want to get high. THC is also the compound that treats cancer and seizures, making it an important part of medical marijuana. Since it produces a euphoric feeling, it helps with depression. However, depression and anxiety often go together, and THC also stimulates the amygdala, which can result in symptoms such as paranoia and increased anxiety. (http://www.anxietysocialnet.com/anxiety-and-medical-marijuana).
CBD is the compound in marijuana that makes you feel relaxed and calm. It is the compound that is used to treat anxiety, because it stops our brain from rapid-firing and helps to produce a calm, relaxed feel. If you take CBD on its own, you will not feel a high.
Too much CBD can make you feel sleepy, though. People who react to CBD in this way may begin to feel lethargic in addition to being calm. This is, obviously, not an ideal way to treat depression or anxiety.
The good news is that CBD counteracts the negative effects of THC. The compounds work symbiotically to create a much better effect and experience than would be possible by isolating either compound and using it alone. If you are taking medical marijuana to treat anxiety or depression and you find yourself becoming increasingly anxious or paranoid, see if you can get a strain that has a higher concentration of CBD. If, on the other hand, you find yourself being too sleepy and lethargic, ask about getting a strain that has a higher concentration of THC.
Different people’s bodies react differently, so it is important to find the balance that works right for you. Leafly (https://www.leafly.com/news/health/best-cannabis-strains-for-depression) has a helpful guide to finding the strain that will work perfectly for your own individual needs.