The World Health Organization announced last year that depression is now the world’s leading cause of poor health. More than 300 million people worldwide suffer from the affliction and the number of people with depressions soared 18 percent between 2005 and 2015.
“These new figures are a wake-up call for all countries to re-think their approaches to mental health and to treat it with the urgency that it deserves,” according to WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan.
In the US, more than 16 million adults has experienced at least one major depressive episode in the last year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That accounts for 7 percent of Americans 18 and older.
Is marijuana a potential remedy for some suffering from depression?
Research suggests that cannabis may be a viable option for a number mental health conditions — including depression. More clinical studies need to be conducted to determine how effective cannabinoid therapy is in treating depression, but there is evidence that it works
Scientists at the University at Buffalo discovered that chronic stress may suppress the brain’s production of endocannabinoids — the naturally occurring compounds a human body creates that have similar chemical traits of cannabis.
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Chronic stress, in turn, can lead to symptoms of depression. Introducing cannabis into the system helps restore the endocannabinoid system and may ease the debilitating symptoms of depression.
“Using compounds derived from marijuana to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression,” according to lead researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane said.
Research in Europe suggests that cannabidiol — a non-psychoactive component of marijuana — is effective in treating anxiety and depression.
This is not to say that the science is definitive when it comes to cannabis therapy and depression. Some research suggests that chronic marijuana smokers are at a higher risk for depression, although a link between cannabis and depression has not been clearly established.