The Real Deal on Marijuana’s Antidepressant Properties

082815_The Real Deal on Marijuana's Andidepressant Properties 

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Diego Dias has long suffered from insomnia and loss of appetite—two classic signs of depression. There were even times when he almost tried committing suicide. He tried taking pills prescribed by his doctors, only to be hounded by their side effects.

But ever since he stepped into college and started smoking four grams of weed on a daily basis, his emotions have stabilized. He felt better, slept better, ate better. He even managed to graduate at the top of his class.

Now, he has been smoking pot for five years as a cure for his depression. He uses two different types of weed—sativa and indica—every day, enabling him to get the best of both worlds. Sativa stimulates the brain and is best taken in the morning, while indica sedates the brain, induces sleep, and increases appetite in the evening. Most of the time, he takes a hybrid strain.

“It helps me stay positive and keeps me motivated,”Dias said in an interview with Ask Men. “It definitely helps.”

Science approves (somehow)

For many people who also use marijuana as medicine, Dias’ testimony has never been truer. Amid the many conflicting literatures on the viability of marijuana as medicine, there are some scientific studies that prove its effectiveness.

One of the strongest researches testifying to the effectiveness of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC—the active component of cannabis—as an antidepressant was a study done by Dr. Gabriela Gobbi of McGill University’s Neurobiological Psychiatry Unit in 2008. After subjecting experimental rats in a “forced swim test” to measure depression, she found out that low doses of THC made rats less depressed. However, high doses only made them more miserable.

Dr. Gobbi’s study also included anecdotal data from patients with AIDS and multiple sclerosis who experience mood improvements because of cannabis. The study concluded that THC mimics the body’s own endo-cannabinoid receptors, and at the same time prevents the depletion of serotonin, a newurotransmitter that regulates mood. Hence, cannabis works as an antidepressant—but only at the right dosage.

The problem is, many doctors are still on the fence regarding the effectiveness of marijuana as an antidepressant. For many users, the right dosage is still on a case-to-case basis. After all, every person reacts differently to weed.

“I would assume it’s a case-to-case thing, where some people see some gains and others wouldn’t. I’m probably one of the only people I know that actually uses it medicinally, and consumes the quantity that I do, and is still able to function,” Dias said. “It’s dependent on the person.”

As more studies on the antidepressant properties of marijuana are being conducted, many users hope that one day, a standard cannabis dosage will be put in place, not just for those suffering from depression, but also for people who use medical marijuana for a variety of conditions, like cancer, seizures, and nerve pain.


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