Does Medical Marijuana Hurt or Help Mental Health Conditions?
Updated: Apr 6
For many of us, 2020 was the worst year of our lives. Last March we entered into lock down as a global pandemic spread rampant, we saw family and friends torn apart from being on opposing political sides and we watched as the nation split in two as racial tension heightened and protests surged.
All of us have been affected by 2020. But as spring approaches and the flowers start to pop out of the ground, hope is in the air and things are starting to look up!
In today’s blog, we will be going over the mental health crisis in America, anxiety and depression, and how getting your medical marijuana card with us can help!
The Mental Health of America Today:
Even though things are starting to look better than they did a year ago today, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health of America as a whole. Mental Health America found some shocking stats in their mental health screening assessment that they perform for the year.
The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression in 2020 is higher than it’s ever been! 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 much 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 the group that is 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.
We know these rates are scary but they can show us that we are not alone!
In Ohio, there are 22 medical conditions that can qualify you for medical marijuana treatment. Unfortunately, anxiety and depression are not on that list. But there is still hope! Every year the Ohio Medical Board reviews applications for new conditions to add to the list.
Although anxiety and depression are not on the list, PTSD is. So if your depression or anxiety was incited by a traumatic event and also have other PTSD symptoms, you can potentially qualify for a medical marijuana card!
At Ohio Marijuana Card, we want to advocate for Ohio residents to have anxiety and depression added to the qualifying conditions list! Let’s take a deep dive into how medical marijuana can help these two conditions.
How Medical Marijuana Can Help Anxiety
While more people are dealing with anxiety than ever before, they also are reaching out and getting help more than ever before. Many people use marijuana to soothe anxiety regardless of if they have a medical marijuana card or not. That is because it really does help! But there also is a fine line between marijuana helping or hurting anxiety!
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 no one universal way to treat anxiety, even when it comes to medical marijuana. Just know it takes a little time and experimentation with different strains, terpene profiles and the levels of THC and CBD.
It has been shown that high-THC strains aid anxiety at lower doses and can actually be worse for you at higher doses. So it is best to start out with a low dose and work your way up from there. A high dose can incite paranoia and make you more anxious. On the other hand, CBD in higher doses has been shown to help reduce anxiety!
The Endocannabinoid System and Anxiety:
Let's look at the science behind all of this to see how marijuana helps anxiety at some doses and intensifies it at others!
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 bring balance back to the ECS and additionally incite the production of natural endocannabinoids throughout the body!
The ECS plays a vital role in regulating fear, anxiety and stress responses in the body. 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 through 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.
May Attention to Terpenes:
Make sure to look at the terpene profile when using medical marijuana treatment for anxiety! Terpenes are the natural, fragrant oils that are secreted from marijuana. It gives each strain an aroma and influences the effects a strain has on a person. There are specific terpene profiles that you can use that have anti-anxiety properties! Next time you’re at your local dispensary, keep an eye out for the terpene limonene!
Medical Marijuana Can Also 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 is more common now than it has ever been 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 complex mood disorder that can make every day life harder and harder. 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, PTSD or, as we are seeing now during the pandemic, isolation.
Depression and the Endocannabinoid System:
Marijuana being used to treat depression actually has a very long history which can be dated back to the 1600’s in India. This is because it works!
Medical marijuana is a fast working alternative to antidepressants. It stimulates the ECS with little to no side effects. This is a big deal for those struggling with depression because antidepressant often come with a lot of harsh side effects like nausea, weight gain, low sex drive, insomnia, fatigue and more.
With medical marijuana, you can get the natural relief that you deserve! Marijuana works in the ECS for depression just like it does for anxiety. It helps combat chronic stress, which is the leading cause of depression, by enhancing a person's mood, giving them more energy, relieving anxiety and helping insomnia!
There have even been studies that show those who consume marijuana have lower levels of depression symptoms than those who do not! It was also 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.
There is a Fine Line
As you can see there is a fine line between whether medical marijuana can hurt or help your anxiety or depression. This is often the reason why the Ohio Medical Board does not add these two conditions to the qualifying conditions list.
We know there are a lot of Ohio residents who have a medical marijuana card for another qualifying condition but also use it to treat their anxiety and depression. We have some advice for you:
With high-THC strains, dose low!
Terpenes are your friends! Look out for products with specific terpenes that have anti-anxiety properties such as limonene.
CBD can really help! It helps reduce anxiety.
Remember that this is treatment! We aren’t using medical marijuana to mask the pain, we are using it as a medicine to treat medical 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 first.
There is hope! Medical marijuana is not the only hope for you but can be a step in the right direction. Your life can be full of happiness with the help you need!
Help is on the Way!
Here at Ohio 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 since they are not qualifying conditions yet in Ohio. You are not alone!
Below are a few contacts that you can use to get assistance 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.
Here at Ohio Marijuana Card, our goal is to help 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.
If you have any questions, call us at (866) 457-5559, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Ohio 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 Ohio.