A Fine Line: Does Medical Marijuana Help or Hurt Mental Health?
Updated: Jan 17
Let’s be real. 2020 was the year from hell. Last March we entered into lock down as a global pandemic spread rampant throughout Louisiana, we saw family and friends town apart from being on opposing political sides and we watched as the nation split in two as racial tension heightened and protests surged.
No matter who you are or what you do, there is no way any one of us has not been affected by the weight that 2020 put on us. Coming into 2021 didn’t seem like much was changing but as spring approaches so does the dawn of a new day.
Things are starting to look up. The pandemic numbers are starting to subside as more and more people are getting vaccinated. Strict political lines are starting to blur as new government officials take office and social movements are starting to finally see some accountability.
The Mental Health of America Today:
Although things are starting to look better than they did last year, the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on the mental health of the nation as a whole. Mental Health America found some shocking stats in their mental health screening assessment that they perform for the year.
They found that the number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression in 2020 went through the roof. The anxiety screen saw a 93% increase and the depression screen saw a 62% increase. The number of those who have moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression has continued to increase throughout 2020 and is higher than it was pre-COVID.
Since the MHS screening program began in 2014, they have never seen rates for suicide and self-harm as high as they are now with LGBTQ+ youth being those most at risk. Teens, ages 11-17, in general are struggling the most with their mental health. They are also the group that is most likely out of every other age group to score for moderate to severe anxiety and depression.
These rates are here to show you that you are not alone, we can get through this together! Thankfully in Louisiana all medical conditions can qualify you for medical marijuana treatment. With us, you can get help for your mental health issues through marijuana. Marijuana has been found to help aid anxiety and depression. We are all needing a little help from our friends and medical marijuana can be where we start!
Anxiety Can Be Aided By Medical Marijuana
While more people are dealing with anxiety than ever before, they also are reaching out and getting help more than ever before. Marijuana can help anxiety and many people use it for this condition, diagnosed or not. But there is a fine line when it comes to using medical marijuana for anxiety treatment.
Anxiety is complicated and it changes over time so the way you treat anxiety with medical marijuana can also be complicated and change over time. There is not one quick fix strain that you can use that is universally great for everyone. But you absolutely can get your medical marijuana card and start your journey with us today. Just know it takes a little time and experimentation with different strains, terpene profiles and differing amounts of THC and CBD.
One of the key findings in the research on anxiety in relation to high-THC strains is that they aid anxiety better at lower doses and are worse at higher doses. So if you try a high-THC strain for anxiety remember than starting with a low dose can help but a higher dose has the potential to make you more anxious and insight paranoia. On the other hand, CBD in high doses has been shown to help reduce anxiety!
Anxiety & the Endocannabinoid System:
But why does marijuana help anxiety at some doses and at others intensify it? Looking at the endocannabinoid system (ECS) will help explain all of this!
The ECS is a system of cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids which are cannabis-like compounds. They interact with the ECS and are key in maintaining homeostasis. Sometimes the ECS can get off balance and the production of natural endocannabinoids can weaken.
This is where medical marijuana treatment comes in! Marijuana produces endocannabinoids that can provide balance to the ECS and insight the production of natural endocannabinoids throughout the body!
The ECS plays a vital role in regulating the fear, anxiety and stress responses in the body by regulating our responses to stress. Cannabinoid receptors are also concentrated in an area of the brain that is involved in anxiety processing. These studies also reveal that THC dosage can have an exacerbating effect on anxiety because it affects the neuron activity differently via the CB1 receptors.
I know, I know. This sounds like a lot! So just remember when picking a medical marijuana product to help anxiety to start off with a low-dose if you’re using a high-THC strain or a high dose of a high-CBD strain.
Terpenes Are Your Friend:
Another thing that is important to look for in medical marijuana treatment for anxiety is the terpene profile! Terpenes are the natural, fragrant oils that are secreted from marijuana which gives each strain an aroma and influences the effects a strain has. There are specific terpene profiles that you can use that support anti-anxiety! Next time you’re at your local dispensary, look for the terpene limonene!
How Medical Marijuana Can Help Depression
We hear a lot about how medical marijuana can treat glaucoma, cancer, multiple sclerosis and more. But we don’t always hear how medical marijuana can help mental health issues, specifically how it can help depression.
Depression rates are going up and depression is more common now than it has been ever before. The World Health Organization estimates that there are over 350 million people that are affected by depression. That makes depression the most common condition worldwide!
Depression is a complicated mood disorder which affects everyday life. There are several forms of depression such as major depression, bipolar depression, seasonal affective disorder, and dysthymia.
Depression can be brought on by life experience such as abuse or personal conflicts, genetics, major life events such as loss or serious illness, substance abuse or, as we are seeing now, isolation. Many people developed depression due to being isolated during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Depression & the Endocannabinoid System:
Depression actually has a very long history of being treated with marijuana which can be dated back to the 1600’s in India. This is because it works!
Medical marijuana is basically a fast working alternative to antidepressants. It stimulates the ECS with little to no side effects. This is huge for those struggling with depression because antidepressant often come with a lot of nasty side effects like nausea, weight gain, low sex drive, insomnia, fatigue and more.
With medical marijuana, you can get natural relief! Marijuana works in the ECS for depression just like it does for anxiety. It helps battle stress, which is the leading cause of depression development, by enhancing a person's mood, giving them more energy, relieving anxiety and helping insomnia!
There have even been studies that show marijuana users have lower levels of depression symptoms altogether! Researchers found that a low dose of THC can act as an antidepressant and produces serotonin in the brain. But just like with anxiety, a high dose of THC can actually worsen depression symptoms.
The Fine Line
As you can see there is a fine line between whether medical marijuana can help or hurt your anxiety or depression. If you use too high of a dose of THC, your symptoms can be exacerbated.
For those of you who are starting on your medical marijuana journey for mental health, we have some advice for you:
Follow this rule of thumb: With high-THC strains, dose low!
Terpenes are your friends! Look out for products with specific terpenes that reduce anxiety such as limonene.
CBD can really help! It has anti-anxiety properties.
Remember that this is treatment! We aren’t using medical marijuana to misuse or over-do it, we are using it as a medicine to treat mental health conditions which comes with some responsibility.
Always talk to your doctor! Sometimes medical marijuana alone won’t be the only thing you need to help you with anxiety or depression. If you are taking other medications with medical marijuana, it is best to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor.
There is hope! Medical marijuana is not the only hope for you but can be the first step in the right direction. Your life can be full of happiness and there is always hope for a better tomorrow with the help!
Where You Can Get Help
Here at Louisiana Marijuana Card, we are not only here to be your medical marijuana provider. Although we can assist you with that, we also want you to have the tools so you can get help for anxiety and depression. You are not alone!
Below are a few contacts that you can use to get help for anxiety and depression:
Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Dial 771 then 1-800-273-8255
Disaster Distress: 1-800-985-5990
Doctors Who Care. Relief You Can Trust.
At Louisiana Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness safely and conveniently through increased access to medical marijuana. Our focus on education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce stigma for our patients by providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (833) 253-2943, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Louisiana Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Louisiana!