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The Skinny on Marijuana, Antidepressants, and Emotions

Posted by Canna Randa on May 18, 2021

Medical marijuana has been approved in the State of Illinois to treat a wide variety of mentally and physically debilitating afflictions, including migraines, chronic pain, PTSD, and anxiety. However, depression is notably absent from the list of qualifying medical conditions

This exclusion is likely because research shows that depression symptoms in people may worsen with marijuana use. Some would even say that marijuana use is clinically problematic for depression and regulating emotions; and that regularly consuming cannabis causes patients to decrease psychiatry treatment. Others would disagree.

As with most things weed-related, there is a staunch division in the academic world about the impact of cannabis on mental and emotional health. This inability to agree whether cannabis is beneficial or detrimental can be partly attributed to the fact that the emotional, physical, and mental impacts of marijuana use vary significantly from user to user and strain to strain. Even different types of products from the same strain can impact how cannabis makes a person feel. Users will likely feel a different effect smoking a Maui Wowie joint than taking a hit of Maui Wowie budder from a dab rig -- this is completely normal.

If you have ever experimented with marijuana, you have probably paid attention to how it makes you feel. Consuming the sticky icky can amplify a wide range of human emotions -- from happy, euphoric, and creative to worried, anxious, and panicked -- sometimes all in the same smoke session. One study out of Colorado State University found that the use of cannabis negatively impacted a person’s ability to recognize and empathize with other people’s emotions. So it would make sense that marijuana would impact our internal emotions as well. 

So what about if you suffer from depression, currently take a psychotropic medication (antidepressant), and like to smoke weed? 

There have been shockingly few respected medical studies published on how cannabis and antidepressant medications interact. But, the available ones seem to agree that using marijuana in conjunction with most psychotropic or serotonin reuptake inhibiting (SSRI) depression medications (like Zoloft, Paxil, Lexapro, Prozac, etc.) does not notably increase the adverse side effects of either substance in patients. However, this academic agreement does not apply to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, persistent depressive disorder, or other more nuanced conditions.

It is important to note here that I am not a doctor, and no current EarthMed budtender has a medical degree. If you suffer from depression and are taking meds for that condition, please speak to your doctor about the situation and be extra vigilant when consuming cannabis. 

Doctors need to know what other substances you are using to ensure you are getting the best medical care they can offer. And, just like prescription pharmaceuticals, cannabis impacts everyone differently. A strain that takes away your anxiety could trigger that same feeling in someone else -- or in you on a different day. Marijuana is absorbed differently in everyone, and even what you have eaten before cannabis consumption can impact how it makes you feel.

Everything cannabis-related comes back to the saying, “start low and go slow.” Only you will be able to decipher how marijuana makes you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s crucial to be aware of how you feel when partaking in sacred herbs. If you find yourself feeling drained or not enjoying the experience of getting stoned anymore, take a tolerance break for a bit. You can always come back to your good friend Mary Jane, and she will welcome you back with open arms and a fat joint.

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