Medical Marijuana for Depression: Can Cannabis Help Treat This Mood Disorder?

medical marijuana for depression

Virtually everyone feels sad at some point. Many might even use terms like “depression” or “depressed” to describe their everyday feelings. But the normal experiences of life are not the same as being clinically depressed.

If you’re feeling permanently down or have intense feelings of sadness and have lost interest in life, it might indicate that there is a more serious issue at play: depression.

According to one recent study, depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting people in every age category. There are a variety of ways you can treat depression, from therapy to exercise, to prescription medication.

There is also a growing body of evidence to suggest that medical cannabis can be a useful treatment for depression.

What Is Depression?

Depression is more than just feeling sad. It is a mood disorder that alters brain chemistry and leaves sufferers with persistent feelings of loss, anger, and deep sadness. Just because depression originates in the brain doesn’t mean it just affects the mind.

Depression is a serious illness that affects both the mind and body and can lead to a range of physical and emotional problems. And it can be fatal.

Emotional symptoms can include anger, aggressiveness, irritability, anxiousness, restlessness, feeling empty, and hopelessness. Depression can also result in physical symptoms, ranging from loss of appetite, reduced sexual desire, drinking excessively, unable to concentrate, difficulty completing tasks, thinking and talking more slowly, insomnia, restless sleep, excessive sleepiness, fatigue, weight changes, pains, headache, and digestive problems.

Despite the large number of symptoms, many Canadians don’t even know they are physically suffering from depression. According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, 5.4% of Canadians 15 years of age and older reported symptoms that met the criteria for a mood disorder, including4.7% for major depression.

On top of that, more than 12%, or roughly one in eight Canadian adults, said they had symptoms that fit the criteria for a mood disorder at some point in their life, including 11.3% for depression.

What does depression look like? There are a number of different types of depression, including:

  • Major Depression: A severe and persistent low mood, profound sadness, or a sense of despair. 
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: Low-grade form of persistent depression once know as dysthymia. Not a minor form of depression, dysthymia can even be more disabling than major depression.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Once referred to as “manic depression” and characterized by extreme mood swings.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: SAD occurs when people are susceptible to bouts of depression during the winter months.
  • Postpartum Depression: More than just the “baby blues,” postpartum depression is a severe, long-lasting form of depression.

Causes of Depression

There are a large number of possible causes of depression, that can range from biological to circumstantial.

  • Early childhood trauma
  • Conflict with family or friends
  • Genetics/Family history
  • Social isolation
  • Loss of a friend or loved one
  • Major life transitions like divorce, infidelity, a new baby, moving away, financial loss, illness, retirement, job loss, etc.
  • Serious illness
  • Stress
  • Substance abuse

Can Marijuana Help Treat Depression?

More and more studies are being conducted on the potential benefits of using medical marijuana for depression.

One academic study from 2014 showed that medical marijuana helped with pain management. Participants reported a 64% decrease in pain while using marijuana. A large number also said they experienced less anxiety and slept better after using cannabis.

Research conducted at the University Medical Center Utrecht, in the Netherlands found that THC can alter the response to negative images or emotions. It can help modulate negative emotions or emotional processing.

And according to a 2020 research study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine, many patients who used cannabis experienced antidepressant effects. The extent of the effects and each patients’ experiences, however, varied with chemotypic properties of the plant.

Does Marijuana Cause Depression?

There is lots of evidence to show that medical cannabis can help treat depression. But can marijuana use actually cause depression?

Interestingly, research suggests that those who smoke marijuana regularly or heavily, are diagnosed with depression more than non-smokers are.

But correlation is not causation. There is no link to suggest that marijuana directly causes depression. It’s thought that genetic, environmental, or other factors that trigger depression leads to marijuana use.

If you or family members have a history of mental health issues, it’s important to seek support and guidance from an experienced medical practitioner before experimenting with medical cannabis to ensure this treatment is right for you.

MMC, Making Access to Medical Cannabis Simple

Medical Marijuana Consulting (MMC) makes it easy to access medical cannabis. As a trusted name in the industry, MMC has been providing patients across Canada with access to medical professionals who are experts on the topic of medical marijuana and depression.

Our dedicated team of physicians, psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners can provide a prescription, offer you help to get you coverage for your prescription costs (if eligible), and refer you to a licensed producer.

In addition to helping, you navigate the medical marijuana system, MMC’s white glove treatment means you get access to one-on-one educational sessions that cover everything you need to know about medical cannabis, including how to safely consume medical marijuana and what dosages to take. Our cannabis clinic also helps with insurance benefits, understanding how to claim your medical cannabis on your taxes and can help you apply for a Grow Your Own License with Health Canada.

At MMC, we want to make access to medical cannabis as simple as possible for as many people as possible. Join our Ambassador Program and receive $15 for every person you refer to MMC that becomes a patient.

To learn more about Medical Marijuana Consulting and how you can secure a prescription as part of your personalized medical cannabis treatment plan, book a consultation online, contact us at 1-844-312-5143, or email us at

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