Most people go through periods of feeling down, but when you’re depressed you feel persistently sad for weeks or months, rather than just a few days.

Some people think depression is trivial and not a genuine health condition. They’re wrong – it is a real illness with real symptoms. Depression isn’t a sign of weakness or something you can “snap out of” by “pulling yourself together”.

The good news is that with the right treatment and support, most people with depression can make a full recovery.

Depression affects people in different ways and can cause a wide variety of symptoms:

  • Feelings of unhappiness and hopelessness, to losing interest in the things you used to enjoy and feeling very tearful. Many people with depression also have symptoms of anxiety.
  • Feeling constantly tired, sleeping badly, having no appetite or sex drive, and various aches and pains.

The symptoms of depression range from mild to severe. At its mildest, you may simply feel persistently low in spirit, while severe depression can make you feel suicidal, that life is no longer worth living.

Most people experience feelings of stress, unhappiness or anxiety during difficult times. A low mood may improve after a short period of time, rather than being a sign of depression. Read more about low mood and depression.

Medical Marijuana Efficiency

Besides self-reports from patients, scientific evidence also points to the endocannabinoid system – the body’s natural cannabinoid system – as having a therapeutic role in depression.

For example, studies conducted on rodents have linked suppression of endocannabinoid activity to symptoms of major depression, while other studies have found increased endocannabinoid activity to have antidepressant-like effects. However, despite evidence that activating the endocannabinoid system can improve symptoms of depression, studies suggest that THC can have both depressant and antidepressant-like effects, depending on the dose.

Specifically, a study published in 2007 found that low doses of a synthetic form of THC (WIN 55,212-2) raised serotonin levels and produced strong antidepressant-like effects in rats, whereas a higher dose reversed the effects and increased depression. However, WIN 55,212-2 is approximately 20 times more potent than THC found in marijuana.

Furthermore THC has been found (under specific conditions) to exert antidepressant-like effects in patients suffering from pain associated with cancer and multiple sclerosis as well as improve mood and general well-being in healthy test subjects.

Interestingly, THC has also been shown to increase neurogenesis – the growth of new brain cells – much like traditional anti-depressant medications do. Stress and depression are known to decrease neurogenesis, which can also be a side-effect of using alcohol, nicotine, opiates and cocaine.

CBD has also shown to have strong anti-psychotic and anti-anxiety affects and clinical tests have shown that cannabis users smoking lower cannabidiol strains are at a much higher risk of memory impairment. GW Pharmaceuticals are currently developing a high CBD rich strain to treat psychosis.

Official Research Reports