Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

Cannabis and Depression

CANNABIS MAY IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE, depression, and sleep quality. This positive result is the finding of an observational series that included 129 uncontrolled cases of patients with depression, discovered using data from the United Kingdom Medical Cannabis Registry.

Cannabis has gained popularity as a potential management tool for depression. But the available evidence regarding its efficacy is not robust.

Now comes an observational study that hints at the promise of cannabis for treating depression and insomnia.

“When you smoke the herb, it reveals you to yourself.”
― Bob Marley

Cannabis and depression

Some clinical studies hint that marijuana smokers (especially regular or heavy users) are diagnosed with depression more frequently than non-users. However, there is no good evidence that marijuana directly causes depression.

On the other hand, there are probably environmental or genetic factors related to depression and marijuana use. Some with depression may use marijuana to detach from their symptoms.

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Marijuana use is also associated with other mental health conditions. The Mayo Clinic (USA) reminds us that substance use may trigger schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis (detachment from reality) in those with a higher baseline risk of these conditions.

There also are associations between marijuana and mental health conditions. Marijuana use may trigger schizophrenia or detachment from reality (psychosis) in people at higher risk of psychosis. The symptoms of diagnosed psychotic illness may be aggravated if marijuana use continues.

Finally, limited evidence shows that teens who attempt suicide may be more likely to have used marijuana than those not making a suicide try.

Cannabis and depression — A new study

British researchers conducted an observational case series review. The study included 129 individuals with depression, identified through the UK Medical Cannabis Registry.

Here are the outcomes based on changes in the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, Sleep Quality Scale, and EQ-5D-5L from baseline to months one, three, and six:

There were significant improvements (at all time points) in each survey tool. Anxiety and depression subscores improved. There were 153 adverse events, including mild (50 percent of side effects), moderate (37 percent), and severe (13 percent).

The biggest study limitation? The study is observational. It cannot establish a causal relationship between marijuana use and improvements in sleep, depression, and overall quality of life.

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Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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