New research utilizing a data-centric approach showed that marijuana significantly reduced the effects of these mental illnesses.
Plenty of anecdotal evidence exists to suggest cannabis alleviates symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression. In addition, scientists working under serious limitations due marijuana’s federally illegal status, have hinted at links between cannabis and mental health ailments. A 2015 rat study found the plant “could potentially help” offset the symptoms of stress-induced depression. Other animal studies also demonstrated that CBD could in part relieve America’s depression problem.
But one Washington State study utilized a data-centric approach using human test subjects to reveal marijuana’s efficacy in treating depression, anxiety, and stress found in everyday life. Published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, the study concluded that “[c]annabis reduces perceived symptoms of negative affect in the short-term, but continued use may exacerbate baseline symptoms of depression over time.”
Utilizing information provided by the marijuana app Strainprint, which helps medical users tracks their cannabis doses and strains, researchers were able to examine how subjects used cannabis within the comforts of their home. As lead author on the study Carrie Cutler told Health Europa, that approach is a departure from previous research around mental illness and cannabis.
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“Existing research on the effects of cannabis on depression, anxiety and stress are very rare and have almost exclusively been done with orally administered THC pills in a laboratory,” Cutler said. “What is unique about our study is that we looked at actual inhaled cannabis by medical marijuana patients who were using it in the comfort of their own homes as opposed to a laboratory.”
According to their analysis, the researchers found that marijuana low in THC and high in CBD was most effective at reducing depression symptoms, while high-THC/high-CBD cannabis “was best for reducing perceived symptoms of stress.” Interestingly, the data also showed that women responded with larger decreases in anxiety after marijuana consumption than men.
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More specifically, 89,3% of all session saw significant drop-offs with depression symptoms after smoking marijuana. However, 3.2% of sessions had those symptoms exacerbated while 7.5% of session elicited no change. For session tracking anxiety and stress, more than 90% of sessions had significant reduction in those symptoms. Whether marijuana increased symptoms of anxiety and stress, or played no role at all, followed similar statistical patterns as the depression numbers.
“This is to my knowledge one of the first scientific studies to provide guidance on the strains and quantities of cannabis people should be seeking out for reducing stress, anxiety and depression,” Cutler said. “Currently, medical and recreational cannabis users rely on the advice of bud tenders whose recommendations are based off of anecdotal not scientific evidence.”