Does marijuana scale back the results of antidepressants?
For the more than 16 million Americans with depression, many are looking for alternative means to relieve their symptoms and turn to marijuana. Marijuana has been studied dozens of times for its effects on mood and depression.
A Study 2017, featured in US National The Library of Medicine noted that “First-line antidepressants are associated with significant side effects that prompt many people to seek alternative treatments.” The study, conducted by McMaster University in Canada found that people with significant side effects often looked to marijuana to relieve their anxiety and depression.
Another Study in 2017, sponsored by Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, found that 13 patients suffering from schizophrenia who were taking clozapine were using cannabis as opposed to medication. The cited study:
“Cannabis use decreased in patients treated with clozapine compared to patients treated with other antipsychotics (OR 2.8; 95% CI 0.97–7.9). Compared to any drug, exposure to clozapine was associated with significantly lower cannabis use (OR 7.1; 95% CI 2.3–22.3). Clozapine exposure was significantly associated compared to treatment with other antipsychotics. “
Meredith Patterson (aka The Cannabis Brain Nurse) told GB Sciences that new treatments for depression may include cannabis. She stated, “A new study that caught my attention was published earlier this year by researchers at Washington State University. It was found that adults reported a significant reduction in depressive symptoms with just a single puff of cannabis that was high in cannabidiol (CBD) and low in tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). ” The study, which had over 12,000 responses was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Photo by Cassidy Kelley via Unsplash
Carrie Cuttler, clinical assistant professor of psychology at WSU and lead author of the study, stated: “Existing research on the effects of cannabis on depression, anxiety and stress is very rare and has been carried out almost exclusively with orally administered THC pills in a laboratory. What’s special about our study is that we looked at actual inhaled cannabis from medical marijuana patients who used it in the comfort of their own home as opposed to a laboratory. “
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The National Health Service (NHS) In the UK, their study states: “Cannabis or marijuana can interact with tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as amitriptyline, imipramine and dothiepin. Both cannabis and TCAs can cause an unusually fast heartbeat (tachycardia). ”
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While so much is unknown about the effects of marijuana on antidepressants, your personal answer may be comprised of two key pieces of information: your body’s genetic makeup and the strength of your medicinal doses and strain of marijuana. To best understand your body’s response to antidepressants and cannabis, the best thing to do is speak to your health team and pharmacy to understand risk factors and protocols.