Although mental health conditions can be caused and attributed to several factors, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has amplified mental health issues in many individuals. Research conducted by the CDC indicates that the pandemic has significantly increased mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression.
The seemingly unending waves of new variants and social distancing measures keeping people from loved ones have affected people’s mental health at home and around the globe. Medical cannabis users with mental health conditions have reported a rise in cannabis use in response to the pandemic.
If you’re considering cannabis as a treatment option, you may want to understand how beneficial medical cannabis can be in relieving your symptoms. This article breaks down the basics of medical cannabis and how it might be beneficial to your mental health.
CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?
Before we dive into medical cannabis as a treatment option for patients who struggle with mental health conditions, it’s important to understand the difference between the two main compounds (THC and CBD) both found in the cannabis plant.
There are over 400 chemicals in the cannabis plant, although tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the most studied among them.
THC has a psychoactive effect that causes euphoria in cannabis users, while CBD is non-psychoactive and is well known for its therapeutic effects. You can also read this in-depth comparison of THC and CBD here.
How do these two compounds help with mental health conditions?
The Science Behind Medical Cannabis and Mental Health
This system influences many essential functions in the brain and body. It’s made up of endocannabinoids naturally created by the body and the cannabinoid receptors with which they bind themselves to. They collaborate to regulate emotions and cognitive functions (e.g. mood and anxiety).
According to some studies, if the body’s endocannabinoid system isn’t working properly, it may lead to the development of mental health issues. This relates to the theory that phytocannabinoids, such as CBD, assist the endocannabinoid system’s functions, giving effective therapeutic alternatives to mental health patients.
Which Mental Health Conditions Can Medical Cannabis Be Used For?
Medical Cannabis and Depression
Depression is a common and serious medical condition that has a negative impact on how you feel, think, and behave. It can also significantly impact the quality of your life.
A small majority of medical cannabis users say they use cannabis as a treatment for depression and find it effective. According to a recent study, out of all people who were diagnosed with clinical depression, those who used medical marijuana have had lower depression. They also reported better sleep, less pain, and a higher overall quality of life.
Part of the appeal of cannabidiol as a potential treatment for depression is that it appears to have a lower risk of withdrawal than existing antidepressant drugs.
Medical Cannabis and Anxiety
Anxiety feelings are very common to experience, but some people struggle to keep their fears under control. Their anxiety is more persistent and constant, and it can have a significant impact on their day-to-day activities.
THC and CBD appear to impact anxiety differently. In smaller doses, pure THC appears to reduce anxiety, but at higher concentrations, it can have the opposite effect.
Pure CBD, on the other hand, appears to alleviate anxiety at all doses examined. With regular use, anxiety appears to be tolerable for most medical cannabis patients.
Medical Cannabis for PTSD
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a common long-term mental health condition for which existing treatments have limited efficacy. Medical cannabis is increasingly being utilized to relieve symptoms in PTSD patients.
Cannabinoids may help treat PTSD, according to two recent studies. One study reveals that cannabis reduces activity in the amygdala, a brain region associated with fear responses to stimuli. And the other study proposes that the plant’s cannabinoids may aid in the dismissal of traumatic memories. For those suffering from PTSD, both may be beneficial.
Reduced anger and irritation were among the therapeutic outcomes reported, as well as improved sleep quality. Many PTSD patients suffer from nightmares and insomnia as a result of their condition. Some have found relief in using CBD for sleep.
If you’re a veteran or a first responder who suffers from symptoms of PTSD, you can read more about how medical cannabis can help you here.
Medical Cannabis and Stress
Stress is a normal part of life. The human body has an emergency response system that kicks into high gear when there are perceived threats.
Stress is one way our bodies protect themselves, but if the stress becomes chronic, it can have major consequences on your health. Cannabis can be a valuable tool for reducing stress and supplementing a healthy lifestyle.
Cannabis consumers in a study reported significant reductions in stress after consuming inhalable cannabis products (e.g., concentrates, oils, and flowers) with high THC or CBD levels. The researchers found that THC reduced stress at low dosages while increasing stress at higher levels, highlighting the relevance of dose when it comes to THC and its effects.
Medical Cannabis and ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a chronic condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It causes an inability to maintain focus, hyperactivity, and even impulsive behaviour. Medical cannabis is increasingly being explored as an alternative treatment for ADHD.
In a recent study, an ADHD patient in Finland who took medical cannabis for over five years experienced relief from his symptoms. Medical cannabis reduced hyperactivity and improved his focus, impulse control, and frustration tolerance.
According to a 2020 study, 59 adults with ADHD who used medical cannabis reported that larger doses of cannabis containing cannabinoids like CBD, CBN, and terpenes helped with their ADHD symptoms.
However, more research is needed to fully comprehend how cannabis and CBD can aid in managing ADHD symptoms.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to note that while medical cannabis can be helpful for some mental health conditions, it is not a cure-all. If you’re considering medical cannabis as a treatment option, keep in mind that everyone’s experience with medical cannabis will be different, so it’s important to consult a doctor before starting any kind of treatment plan.
At Canadian Cannabis Clinics, we have healthcare professionals ready to assist you. Book a consultation appointment with us here.
Due to the current COVID-19 situation, all appointments will be conducted exclusively by telephone or through Virtual Care, our already established video call service.