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What You Need to Know About Using Cannabis If You Take Tricyclic Antidepressants

If you’re living with depression and considering alternative treatment methods, you might be wondering: Can I get a medical card for depression?

While the answer will depend on your state’s laws, there are still important considerations to be made about the combination of medical cannabis with other depression treatments like pharmaceutical medications.

While tricyclic antidepressants are some of the oldest depression medications on the market, patients should take care before combining them with medical cannabis. Communication with providers is key.

In this guide, we’ll explore how medical cannabis might interact with your tricyclic antidepressants and other factors you should consider before adding medical marijuana to your treatment regimen.

What Are Tricyclic Antidepressants?

To begin, let’s cover some of the basics of tricyclic antidepressants:

  • Tricyclic antidepressants are some of the oldest mental health drugs still FDA-approved to support patients living with depression.
  • Tricyclic antidepressants feature some of the most side effects compared to other mental health drugs; as a result, they’re often prescribed for off-label use rather than depression treatment. Or, they’re prescribed to patients if other depression drugs haven’t been impactful.
  • Common side effects of tricyclic antidepressants include dry mouth, dizziness, constipation, and blurred vision.

Unfortunately, tricyclic antidepressants are associated with high overdose and toxicity risks. Since these drugs can have substantial impacts on the cardiovascular and neurological systems, they can be particularly damaging to both when taken in extreme excess.

This is just one of the reasons why providers are hesitant to prescribe them in the first place. If your provider has resorted to tricyclic antidepressants, it may be time to investigate non-pharmaceutical options like medical cannabis (though it’s important to discuss this transition with a qualified healthcare provider; we’ll discuss this in more detail below).

How Do Tricyclic Antidepressants Differ from SSRIs, SNRIs, and MAOIs?

When it comes to classes of antidepressants, there are key differences to note between tricyclic medications and alternatives, like:

  • Tricyclic AntidepressantsSelective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

One of the most important distinctions is the side effect load: simply put, these newer drugs carry far fewer side effects. This is one of the many reasons why they’re more commonly prescribed for depression compared to their tricyclic counterparts.

Since SSRIs, SNRIs, and MAOIs are newer drugs, they’re also more commonly used to treat depression specifically rather than off-label conditions like migraines and fibromyalgia. In general, these newer drugs are considered far safer and more effective than their older counterparts.

Management vs. Recovery: Incorporating Medical Cannabis Into Depression Treatment

Antidepressants are only one of the two most common treatment methods for depression in today’s Western medicine model: the other being mental health counseling.

However, these approaches both have a key drawback. They’re primarily intended to treat the symptoms of depression instead of the root cause.

Many patients find that medical marijuana supports recovery from mental health conditions like anxiety and depression along with daily symptom management. For instance, an intentional use of medical marijuana could look like:

  • Taking a dose of cannabis and spending time on introspection.
  • Using an energy-boosting marijuana strain to increase engagement with daily activities.
  • Using marijuana to support healthy sleep or boost appetite to bolster overall wellness.

Ultimately, many patients find that medical cannabis helps them deal with the daily realities and long-term effects of depression without the side effects of traditional pharmaceuticals. At TeleLeaf, we’re deeply invested in this exact project: helping people find relief outside of the Western medical model and unlocking long-term recovery (rather than surface-level symptom management).

Can You Take Tricyclic Antidepressants and Use Medical Marijuana at the Same Time?

If you’re considering using medical marijuana in combination with traditional antidepressants, there are a few things you should know before you get started:

  • Science is lagging behind – Medical researchers are still exploring why medical marijuana produces positive results for people living with depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and other mental health conditions. As a result, traditional healthcare providers may be hesitant to recommend medical marijuana as a treatment option for people living with depression.
  • Communication is key – Since data is limited, healthcare providers are also dependent on anecdotal evidence when it comes to the effects of combining pharmaceuticals with cannabis. So, patients looking to combine all-natural solutions with prescription medications should be willing to have open and honest conversations with their providers about their experiences using marijuana and pharmaceuticals.
  • You can adjust your treatment plan at any time – While you may have to wean off of certain pharmaceutical medications to prevent major health complications, you are in control of your treatments. If you choose to stop taking depression medications or medical cannabis, you’re free to do so. Your autonomy and decision-making is a critical part of your treatment plan, and your providers should respect your desired approach.

Work with Both a Medical Cannabis Doctor and a Mental Health Expert

Depression Treatment-TeleLeafOne of the best approaches for incorporating medical cannabis into your treatment plan if you’re already taking antidepressants is to work with two distinct providers:

  1. A mental health expert – A mental health counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist has the mental health know-how to help you navigate key considerations along your treatment and recovery journey.
  2. A medical cannabis doctor – While mental health professionals will have in-depth knowledge of the current pharmaceuticals on the market and current treatment options, a medical marijuana provider will be able to comment on the combination of medical cannabis with other medications and recommend specific products you can try as you explore all-natural relief.

If these two providers can communicate about your treatment plan, that’s even better. Having two providers on your team can help you create a customized recovery plan tailor-made for your lifestyle and needs.

Start Slow

If you’re considering starting a mental health treatment regimen or adjusting a current course, pacing is critical to your success. In other words, start slow. What does this look like?

  • Starting with the lowest dose – Whether you’re starting a course of antidepressants or medical cannabis, starting with the lowest possible dose can help you reduce side effect potential—although medical marijuana has very few side effects.
  • Increasing dosages incrementally – If you’re looking to change your dosage of either antidepressant medication or cannabis, increase your dose as slowly as possible. Higher doses typically mean more intensive side effects, and you should take as much time as you can to adjust to medication changes.
  • Staying consistent – Unless you’re experiencing highly negative effects, you should do your best to stay consistent with your treatment plan. Instead of making rapid, frequent changes to your treatment plan, try to plan for gradual changes.

TL;DR: If you’re thinking about getting a medical card for depression, you should consider some of the ramifications of combining medical cannabis with other medications like tricyclic antidepressants. While tricyclic antidepressants are markedly different from newer pharmaceuticals like SSRIs and SNRIs, patients should take the same approach as they would with any other prescription combinations: having an honest conversation with providers about which medications they’re taking, marijuana included.

TeleLeaf: Unlocking Recovery from Depression with Medical Cannabis

Medical marijuana can be an incredibly useful tool for people living with depression, whether or not they’re currently using pharmaceutical options like tricyclic antidepressants. However, it can be difficult to find compassionate, informed providers who are willing to incorporate plant-based solutions to mental health challenges.

That’s where TeleLeaf comes in.

Our mission is simple: to help people struggling with mental health challenges, trauma recovery, and physical healing. We know just how powerful medical cannabis can be for people living with medical challenges because we’ve seen the astounding results firsthand.

If you’re ready to explore how medical marijuana could support your journey to a restored mind-body connection, we can help. Reach out to us to schedule your first appointment, and unlock the all-natural healing you deserve.


Sources:

Cleveland Clinic. Tricyclic Antidepressants.
https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/25146-tricyclic-antidepressants

Mayo Clinic. Antidepressants: Selecting One That’s Right for You.
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/antidepressants/art-20046273

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