Depression

Depression affects almost everyone at some point in their lives. However, for some people it becomes a persistent part of their lives. Persistent depression can be classed as clinical depression. It is also often called unipolar depression, as it stands in contrast to bipolar depression, which includes erratic shifts in mood from extreme euphoria to extreme sadness.

Depression could be the most common type of mental health condition in the U.S., affecting just over 26% of the population, although major depression affects around 16.1 million Americans, which is 6.7% of the population. Due to the persistence of a condition like depression, as well as the time it can take to treat it properly, the social impacts cannot be overestimated or necessarily even measured properly. Those with recurrent depression can expect their life expectancy to be shortened by 7 – 11 years. Depression can also dampen the immune system and make one more prone to illness.

Depression could be the most common type of mental health condition in the U.S., affecting just over 26% of the population, although major depression affects around 16.1 million Americans, which is 6.7% of the population. Depression may be comorbid with many other conditions, and can both be a factor in causing another mental or physical health problem, as well as a symptom of another, deeper underlying problem.

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems. However, it is often forgotten that depression is often linked to stress, which in turn is linked to pain. Indeed, one of the most common side-effects and causes of recurring physical pain is stress and depression. This is perhaps not surprising – being in pain everyday is a stressful experience.

Antidepressants as they currently stand have a very high therapeutic index, and are not highly addictive. They work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters like serotonin (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – SSRIs) and noradrenaline (noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants – NASSAs). The increasing levels of neurotransmitters may also disrupt pain signals, making them a mainstay in treating chronic pain conditions.

Cannabis can have many antidepressant-like effects, in particular the cannabinoids THC, CBC and CBD. This means cannabis can be an immensely useful adjunct to current antidepressants, or be of potential use for anyone who doesn’t handle SSRIs and other antidepressants too well.

Value of Medical Marijuana

Although antidepressants have proven themselves very useful for depression (and a whole host of other conditions), they can also take several weeks to start taking effect. Moreover, after several weeks of trying, the antidepressant might not even work, and the patient has to try another antidepressant. Cannabis, on the other hand, has more immediate effects.

Positives

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Negatives

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Treatments

There are a number of cannabinoids and terpenoids that can potentially help beat depression, including limonene, cannabichromene (CBC), CBD and THC. However, these need to be carefully balanced together, and possibly in small rather than large dosages in order to beat depression or lift a low mood – taking too much might have the opposite effect. Care must also be taken if a patient is suffering from depression and anxiety, which is often comorbid with depression.

26.5% of patients used cannabis to replace or reduce their need for antidepressants. 47.3% of patients used cannabis to help beat depression. In contrast to other conditions, depression is one of the few where sativa strains were preferred, at 45.03%. This is especially interesting, as depression is often comorbid with anxiety, where indicas are preferred (but only slightly).

Caryophyllene seem to be particularly useful terpenes for those with depression, as well as limonene and pinene. Nerolidol may be beneficial, too. Beta-caryophyllene, which is a CB2 receptor agonist, may have antidepressant effects. Linalool and pinene may produce an antidepressive effect through interaction with the monoaminergic system.

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