- Olivia Castro
How Does Medical Marijuana Help Mental Health Conditions?
Real talk. 2020 was a difficult one. Last March we entered into lock down as a global pandemic spread rampant throughout Tennessee, we saw family and friends torn apart from being on opposing political views and we watched as the nation split in two as racial tension heightened and protests surged.
Everyone has been affected by 2020. But as the flowers start to pop out of the ground and the sun starts to set later and later into the evening, there is hope in the air. Things are starting to look up!
In today’s blog, we will be going over the mental health crisis in America due to the COVID-19 pandemic, anxiety and depression, and how getting your medical marijuana card with us, once Tennessee has a fully operating program, can help!
The Mental Health of America Today:
Even though things are starting to look better with each day that passes, the pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health of our nation. Mental Health America found some shocking stats in their mental health screening assessment that they perform for the year.
The number of people reaching out for help for 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 and is much higher than it was pre-COVID.
Since the MHS screening program was founded back 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. This age group is also the 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 are here to show us that we are not alone!
Right now, Tennessee does not have a fully operating medical marijuana program but the time for the program may be just around the corner. Let’s take a deep dive into how medical marijuana can help these anxiety and depression once the program is up and running!
Can Medical Marijuana Help or Hurt Anxiety?
While more people are dealing with anxiety than ever before, they also are reaching out and reaching out for 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 you should know that there is a fine line between marijuana helping or hurting anxiety.
Anxiety is a complicated condition that changes over time so the way you treat anxiety with medical marijuana can also be complicated and change over time. There is no simple, universal way to treat anxiety, especially 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.
Studies have shown that high-THC strains aid anxiety at lower doses and can actually be worse for your anxiety at higher doses. It is best to start out with a low dose and work your way up from there since a high dose can incite paranoia and make you more anxious overall. On the other hand, CBD in higher doses has been shown to help reduce anxiety!
How Marijuana Aids Anxiety Via The Endocannabinoid System:
But how exactly does this work? Let's take a look at the science to see how marijuana helps anxiety at some doses and intensifies it at others!
The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a system of cannabinoid receptors that are found throughout the body. Our bodies naturally produce endocannabinoids which are similar to cannabis compounds. They interact with the ECS and are key in maintaining balance throughout the body. Sometimes the ECS can be knocked off balance and the production of natural endocannabinoids can become weak.
This is where medical marijuana treatment steps in! Marijuana produces endocannabinoids that can bring balance to the ECS and additionally trigger the production of natural endocannabinoids in the body!
The ECS plays a vital role in regulating fear, anxiety and stress responses which is why marijuana can help soothe anxiety. 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 is a lot of detail and many big words! So just remember when picking a medical marijuana product to aid anxiety, start off with a low-dose if you’re using a high-THC strain or a high dose of a high-CBD strain.
Keep an Eye on Terpenes:
Make sure to keep an eye on 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 the body.
There are specific terpene profiles, such as limonene, that you can use that have anti-anxiety properties! Once dispensaries are open in Tennessee, you can pick some of those strains up.
Medical Marijuana Can Also Aid Depression!
We hear a lot about how medical marijuana can treat a variety of medical conditions like cancer, glaucoma and multiple sclerosis. But we don’t always hear how marijuana can aid mental health issues, specifically depression.
Depression is more common today than it has ever been before. It is estimated by The World Health Organization that there are over 350 million people that are affected by depression. That makes depression the most common condition worldwide! Yet it is often overlooked by medical marijuana programs around the country.
Depression is a complex mood disorder that can make every day life difficult. Depression can come in many different forms 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, or, as we are seeing now during the pandemic, isolation.
The Endocannabinoid System and Depression:
Marijuana being used to treat depression actually has a very long history. It can even be dated back to the 1600’s in India! This is because it works.
Medical marijuana is basically a fast working alternative to antidepressants. It stimulates the ECS with little to no side effects. This is a big deal because antidepressant often come with a lot of unwanted 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 without the side effects! 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 one's mood, giving more energy, relieving anxiety and helping with insomnia!
Additionally, there have 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. Our hope is that these two conditions will both be on the qualifying conditions list once Tennessee has a legal medical marijuana program. Until then, we will advocate for you and we will leave you with some advice:
With high-THC strains, dose low!
Terpenes are your friends!
CBD can really help!
Remember that this is treatment! Marijuana is not meant to be used to “mask the pain”, we advocate for medical marijuana use as a medicine to treat medical conditions which comes with some responsibility.
Alway talk to your doctor! If you will be taking other medications with medical marijuana in the future, it is best to have an open and honest conversation with your doctor first.
There is hope! A medical marijuana program in Tennessee is not the only hope for you but can be a step in the right direction. With help, your life can be full of happiness now!
Where Help is Available:
Here at Tennessee 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 medical marijuana is not legal in Tennessee yet. 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.
At Tennessee Marijuana Card, our mission is helping 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 (833) 781-5611, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Tennessee Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.