Mental health issues often have a stigma attached to them. People may be hesitant to talk about their struggles or reach out for help for fear of being judged. As a result, many people with mental health concerns don’t receive the treatment they need. In fact, one in five adults will experience a mental health issue like depression or anxiety during the course of their lifetime. If you suffer from a mental health issue and are looking for natural ways to manage this, you may want to consider medical marijuana as an option. In this article, we’ll explore the facts about medical marijuana and your mental health. Read on to learn more and understand if this could be an effective treatment option for you.
What is Medical Marijuana?
Medical marijuana is a natural herb made from the leaves and buds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s often used as part of an integrative approach to mental illness treatment. If you have a mental health condition that’s not responding well to traditional treatments, you may want to consider using medical marijuana. When used as part of an integrative approach to mental illness treatment, medical marijuana is particularly helpful for treating depression and anxiety. It’s also helpful for treating other mental health conditions, like PTSD, OCD, and schizophrenia.
Effects of Medical Marijuana on the Brain
The immediate effects of medical marijuana on the brain are fairly well-known. As a psychoactive substance, it works by binding to special receptors in the brain called cannabinoids. When cannabinoids bind to these receptors, they change the way the brain functions. In turn, this can affect your mood, feelings, and thinking patterns. In terms of your mental health, medical marijuana can help reduce feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. It can also help improve your sleep and eating habits. Unfortunately, medical marijuana can also have negative side effects on the brain. These include poor focus and memory, restlessness, and an increased risk of mood disorders.
How Does Medical Marijuana Help with Mental Health?
While the exact mechanism of action behind medical marijuana isn’t fully understood, researchers do know that it affects neurotransmitters. These are the chemicals in the brain that control mood, thoughts, and feelings. The cannabinoids in medical marijuana have been shown to impact certain neurotransmitters associated with mental health, including serotonin, dopamine, and cannabinoid receptors. Because serotonin and dopamine are such important neurotransmitters for mental health, medical marijuana may be helpful for treating depression and anxiety. In addition, cannabinoids have also been shown to enhance extinction learning. Extinction learning is how we can overcome our negative thoughts and feelings to become more positive. Thus, medical marijuana may also be helpful for those who struggle with OCD and PTSD.
Is Marijuana an Effective Treatment for Depression?
Researchers have found that medical marijuana could potentially be an effective treatment for depression. One study examining this issue found that people who used medical marijuana were less likely to experience depression symptoms. In addition, a separate study found that medical marijuana may be especially helpful for teens and young adults who are more likely to experience depression. Unfortunately, the research on marijuana and depression treatment is still in the early stages. More studies are needed to determine if marijuana is an effective long-term treatment option.
Is Marijuana an Effective Treatment for Anxiety?
Similar to depression, medical marijuana may be an effective treatment for anxiety. Some studies have found that medical marijuana users have lower levels of anxiety and stress than non-users. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine if medical marijuana is causing lower levels of anxiety or if other factors are at play. Researchers are working to understand the connection between medical marijuana and anxiety. Hopefully, they’ll be able to determine if marijuana is an effective treatment for anxiety and if so, why.
Is There a Dark Side to Using Medical Marijuana for Mental Health?
Like many medications, marijuana has side effects. Unfortunately, these side effects may be more severe for people with mental health issues. As we mentioned previously, medical marijuana can increase feelings of restlessness and anxiety. It can also have negative effects on memory and learning. This can make it difficult to hold a job or go to school. In addition, using too much medical marijuana may increase the risk of experiencing other mental health issues, like hallucinations or paranoia. It’s also possible to develop a marijuana use disorder. If you use too much marijuana, you could create a dependency.
According to the World Health Organization, only about one-third of people with mental health conditions actually receive treatment. People may not be receiving the treatment they need because of misconceptions about medical marijuana. If you need treatment for a mental illness, you may want to consider medical marijuana. This can be a great, natural treatment option for people with milder symptoms. People with more severe mental health issues should probably explore other treatment options. If you have a mental health concern, you should talk to your doctor about treatment options. You can also speak to a mental health professional, like a therapist, to discuss your options and get help making a plan.