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A Complete Guide on Medical Marijuana for Depression
Did you know that approximately 60% of Americans support marijuana legalization for recreational and medicinal use? Around 91% support the minimum of medical marijuana legalization.
Have you wondered how effective medical marijuana for depression is? Natural remedies like cannabis for depression can reduce some symptoms but affects everyone differently.
It is essential that you go through a reputable and qualified dispensary after speaking with a physician. Laws are different in every state, so ensure you do your research beforehand on qualifying diagnoses and medical marijuana legalization.
To help you get started in the process, TeleLeaf has a must-read article you won’t want to miss out on. Keep reading on and learn more about the signs and symptoms of depression and how medical marijuana can help.
What Is Depression?
Depression is a mental health condition that affects nearly 5% of adults globally. The two main characteristics of depression are persistent sadness and lack of interest in usual activities and hobbies.
Experts found that depression is the number one cause of disability and can negatively affect many other health conditions. The challenging component of depression is that it can be multi-causal. Evidence shows social, biological, and psychological factors can all play a role in the diagnosis and progression of depression.
Depression can sometimes be challenging to diagnose. Most everyone deals with periodic sadness. However, persistent sadness are feelings that last two weeks or longer and affects your ability to function throughout the day.
The key difference between sadness and depression is how it impacts your daily life. If you find that it inhibits your work, hobbies, or socializing with family and friends, it might be time to seek professional help. It also helps to know a few of the different kinds of depression, such as:
- Seasonal depression
- Perinatal depression
- Postpartum depression
- Manic depression
- Major depression
- And more
One of the more common ones is major depressive disorder (MDD), which is a more severe form. Around 17.3 million adults in the United States have experienced at least one episode of MDD.
Signs of Depression
MDD has more severe symptoms, such as extreme sadness or grief and suicide ideation. Symptoms can persist for months, whereas others may have only one or two short episodes in their lifetime. Other common signs of depression include:
- Feelings of worthless
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Decrease in energy
- Difficulties concentrating
- Social withdrawal
- Memory problems
- Difficulties with decision-making
Manic Depression or bipolar depression affects individuals a bit differently. During mania, individuals might feel an increase in energy, racing thoughts, or grandiose thinking.
During phases of depression, the symptoms will be similar to those above. Depression is extremely debilitating, and approximately 60% of individuals who commit suicide have MDD.
Treating depression is essential to helping improve quality of life. The two most common treatments are:
- Psychotherapy or counseling
Psychotherapy is a helpful tool for helping to redirect negative thought patterns. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one specific form of psychotherapy used for depression. Medical experts discovered that combinations of CBT and pharmacotherapy are the most effective versus using one or the other.
CBT works best for individuals with mild to moderate depression. Individuals with severe personality disorders might not benefit from CBT. Common medications used for depression are:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Selective serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Atypical antidepressants
These are prescription medications that require a valid script before refilling. Unfortunately, approximately 30.9% of patients do not respond to medication treatment. Along with a poor response, there are several adverse effects that can occur, including:
- Weight gain
- Sexual dysfunction
Holistic and natural treatments are increasing in popularity but are not regulated by the FDA. However, many people experience fewer side effects and symptom relief.
Medical Marijuana for Depression
Medical marijuana is prescribed cannabis. It is part of natural depression treatments and has increased in popularity in recent years as local legislation has opened more doors for medicinal cannabis use.
Unlike recreational use, medical marijuana is not used to get “high.” Rather, it is used to treat and manage mental or physical health conditions.
More than 50% of states have approved medical marijuana for specific diagnoses. While research is limited, small sample groups show promise. Medical marijuana could help reduce feelings of pain, manage nausea, and improve quality of life.
In cases of depression, anxiety and poor sleep are common co-occurrences. Studies found that 43% of patients with a generalized anxiety disorder also have depression. Medical marijuana can promote feelings of relaxation and reduce stress, thereby decreasing some of the anxiety symptoms associated with depression.
Certain strains are also more advantageous for improving sleep. Insomnia is the most prevalent sleep condition with MDD.
Approximately 75% of patients with depression also have insomnia. The ongoing cycle of lack of sleep and depressive symptoms can worsen both conditions and increase the risk for ongoing mental health conditions. Treatments for depression often solve many insomnia issues.
Is Cannabis for Depression Safe?
In a general sense: yes. Cannabis is a natural herb that has been used for centuries for various ailments and recreational purposes. Some studies show that long-term use of medical marijuana for chronic pain is safe.
However, this statement comes with a few conditions. First, it is essential that you consult a medical professional before using cannabis for depression. Some drugs or other medications might interact and cause negative side effects.
Additionally, cannabis must be used within reason. For some types of depression, cannabis may be an adjunct treatment. Other patients might find enough symptom relief to reduce other treatment use.
There is also some evidence that cannabis can increase feelings of anxiety or restlessness. Most times, this relation is high amounts of THC or unregulated use.
Cannabis for Depression Guidelines
To avoid increasing depressive and anxiety symptoms, it is best to consult with a pharmacist. During the medical marijuana card process, you will have an opportunity to consult with a medical professional.
While the experts can recommend more specific guidelines, let’s review some general information regarding medical marijuana guidelines. First, there are four consumption methods:
Most avoid rectal consumption since it involves suppositories. Oral, inhalants, and topical uses are all very common and popular. Oral medical marijuana use includes:
Vaping or smoking are two inhalant forms, and lotions, oils, or creams are some examples of topical applications. As a general rule, ingestible or inhalant forms are going to provide more system effects.
The primary difference between oral ingestion and inhalants is metabolism and safety. If you use edibles, it will take longer to feel the effects of cannabis. Tinctures have a quicker onset since it involves drops placed under the tongue.
Vaping and smoking quickly deliver cannabis to your system, but it is not the safest route. So far, research shows vaping is less harmful than smoking but can still deliver detrimental toxins into your lungs. It is best to try other methods first.
Topicals are excellent for pain relief. You can apply it directly on arthritic joints or problematic areas. However, you will likely need other administration routes for more system depressive symptom relief.
Cannabis Dose for Depression
Edibles and tinctures should have outlined doses that you can reference. As a general rule of thumb, you should start at a lower dose and slowly increase it.
Starting at too high of a dose increases your risk of various side effects, including anxiety. The safest route is to start with microdoses. Two mg to five mg is a good starting point.
If your state does not offer that low of a dose, consider cutting it in half. Typically, cannabis’ effects begin within thirty minutes to two hours. If you do not notice any difference after two hours, you might need another two mg dose.
Once you find a dose that works for you, you can start journaling your symptoms and how you feel after taking medical marijuana. You might also need to try different strains or routes of administration to find one that works for you.
What Type of Cannabis Strain Is Best for Depression?
There are several cannabis strains, but the two most popular ones are Indica and Sativa. Most cannabis dispensaries will have various forms of these strains available.
Since depression is closely tied to feelings of restlessness or anxiety, it is crucial you purchase a cannabis strain that promotes relaxation. If you have never used medical marijuana before, another term to understand is “ratios.”
Ratios include two key points: your endocannabinoid system and the strain you purchase. Your endocannabinoid system is comprised of different enzymes or receptors that can alter cannabis’ effects compared to another person. This internal “ratio” can make you respond more favorably to one strain versus another.
On the other hand, cannabis strains also have ratios. These ratios are usually THC to CBD-based, although purchasing whole flowers will include several other cannabinoids.
Between Indica and Sativa, the former is more ideal for insomnia and anxiety symptoms. Why?
Indica has a slightly different genetic makeup, including a higher Myrcene terpene ratio. Indica is generally known as a better relaxant and sleep aid, while Sativa focuses on the energy, focus, and creativity.
That does not mean that Sativa strains should be ignored. If you don’t suffer from anxiety and are willing to give it a shot, Sativa can be a great tool for depressive symptoms.
For most individuals suffering from depression, it is challenging to find motivation, creativity, and energy. Sativa strains can boost productivity and help with mental focus. One of the side effects of Sativa strains is an increase in anxiety, so ensure you monitor your symptoms carefully.
How To Get Medical Marijuana for Depression
How can you get a medical marijuana card for depression? Your first step is checking if you reside in a qualifying state.
Mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are usually qualifying medical conditions. Yet, you still need to meet with a licensed physician before registering through your state.
A physician will review your symptoms and diagnosis. They may advise on types of medical marijuana ideal for your situation. Once you have approval, it is time to find a reputable pharmacy.
A pharmacy is crucial to having a positive experience with medical marijuana. Pharmacies will also have on-site pharmacists that can discuss in greater depth marijuana strains, dosages, side effects, and more.
Pharmacists are only consulted after a referral from your physician. They are your point of reference for administration routes, drug interactions, or product types.
Finding a Qualified Physician
At TeleLeaf, we specialize in setting you up with qualified physicians for a consultation. If you do not get approved for a medical marijuana card, we guarantee your money back.
If you have a depression diagnosis, the process should go smoothly, and we can streamline you with reputable pharmacies and pharmacists near you (depending on your state).
In Louisana, there are nine dispensaries that you can purchase medical marijuana from after meeting with a physician. These approved pharmacies can help you find the right medical marijuana for you.
Natural Ways To Treat Depression
Medical marijuana for depression can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and help you improve your quality of sleep. While it might not eliminate all your symptoms, certain strains can improve mental clarity and focus.
Before purchasing medical marijuana, you need a trusted platform you can rely on. Let TeleLeaf help you find a qualified physician, pharmacist, and medical marijuana strain.
If you are ready to get started with more natural ways to treat your depression, contact us today for more information!