Medical Cannabis and Your Mental Health
Psychiatrists and other health professionals are working hard to increase their understanding of the connections between marijuana and mental health, so they can react to the growing medical and recreational marijuana use among their patients.
It’s useful for users, too, to have an idea of what to expect from this miraculous plant. Molecular CBD is often used to treat schizophrenia, and the results are good (and have fewer side effects) when compared with other antipsychotic medications.
Here’s how it affects anxiety, depression, and psychosis:
According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada, 12% of Canadians experience generalized anxiety every year, and one-quarter of all will have it at least once in their lifetime. With these statistics, it’s clear the medical fraternity needs to deliver some form of treatment.
Medical marijuana is showing promise for short-term relief, although most practitioners suggest there are better medications for long-term use. It creates a fast-acting, calming experience that relieves the anxiety temporarily, but you can become psychologically dependent on it as a result and in the long term it can cause memory loss.
With around 350 million people globally suffering from depression, it’s viewed as the leading cause of disability. While medical marijuana isn’t typically prescribed for treating depression specifically, it can be hugely beneficial for some of the conditions at the root of the depression. Chronic pain, for example, can trigger depression but responds well to the use of weed, as does anxiety, nausea, and vomiting caused by chemotherapy, and sleep or movement disorders.
There are some risks involved – side effects can depend on the method of ingestion, and long-term use can trigger schizophrenia or psychosis in patients who are at risk for them, although there’s not yet conclusive evidence of this. There’s also an opinion that marijuana actually leads to depression in some people, and it doesn’t mix well with chemical anti-depressants, so it’s very much an individual choice.
There’s evidence of a statistical association between the use of cannabis and improved cognitive ability among people with psychotic conditions who have a history of cannabis use. Until recently, popular opinion was that the use of marijuana could actually induce psychosis, but a study published in the 2016 Journal of Neuroscience shows the cannabidiol (CBD) component of weed has significant therapeutic benefit for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Pros and Cons
The debate in favour of medical marijuana is currently as hot as the arguments against it. Some of the advantages are:
Medical marijuana is good for relief of nausea and vomiting, muscle spasticity, loss of appetite, and pain reduction—all of which are big contributors to poor mental health. CBD doesn’t make you high, and it has been used safely for hundreds of years to treat both mental and physical conditions.Disadvantages include the effect on short-term memory, the impact of smoking if that’s your chosen method of ingestion, and the illegality of driving under the influence.
All this shows it’s essential to consider all the variables when you’re deciding whether to try medical marijuana to treat a specific mental health condition. Clinical trials have previously been limited because of the illegality of cannabis, but as the usage of this plant becomes mainstream researchers will likely be able to do more studies and shed greater light on exactly how it affects mental health.