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Now that we have explored the links between smoking and schizophrenia, we can talk about using Cannabis as an antidepressant.

With mental health issues becoming ever more of a concern to public health, and at a time of severe austerity in the UK, wouldn’t it make lots of sense to conduct some clinical studies to test the efficacy of using cannabis for depression and the potential savings for the NHS this could bring?

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) analysed data from 70 trials of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants and found that they DOUBLED the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviour.

This report comes at a time when ever increasing numbers of the general population are meeting the criteria for at least one mental health condition/disorder for which doctors can legally prescribe these drugs.

Clinical trials using cannabis as an antidepressant are few and far between; nowhere near the level of research and development of other neurological treatments for depression being conducted by these international conglomerates despite having mountains of anecdotal evidence that Cannabis is an effective treatment.

So instead they focus on developing new SSRI’s (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRI’s (Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) which, as touched on earlier can have side effects.

These side effects can include Suicidal thoughts, weight gain, Insomnia, Diarrhoea, erectile dysfunction, Violent behaviour, Aggression, Nervousness, Agitation or restlessness, nausea, loss of motivation and the list goes on.

A study done in Poland scratched the tip of the iceberg by discovering that antidepressant medications prompted an increase in the body’s production of natural endocannabinoids but as to how this relates to mood regulation the authors do not speculate.

Now, we already know that Cannabis is effective in treating another debilitating mental health disorder – post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The NHS is also currently spending £5.5 million a week on anti-depressants, with the global industry expected to be worth an estimated £14 Billion by the end of 2020. We also know from various studies and places in the world where medical cannabis is available on prescription that cannabis has therapeutic effects, including euphoria. 

So wouldn’t it be worth looking at alternatives to traditional methods of dealing with depression that won’t increase the economic pressure on NHS budgets?

cannabis for depression
cannabis seedlings

Cannabis for depression

Under my proposed model, patients would be free to explore various cannabis strains and find the genetics that works best for them – then be free to cultivate their plants and cross breed them to maximise the medicinal benefits, all from their home.

These actions could save the health service millions in medical costs, helping to unburden the NHS as well as giving the patient control over their treatment (which as a long-time patient I can testify is invaluable.)

This is an area that urgently needs a great deal of investment and research, but until the stigma is ended and prohibition lifted, thousands if not millions of people living with Depression in the UK and abroad will continue to suffer.

By Simpa Carter

Supporting Links:

Can cannabis cure depression?

We are writing a follow-up feature which will include reports from medical cannabis users in the UK using cannabis to treat depression.

Are you a medical cannabis user? Have you used cannabis for depression?

Please get in touch if you would like to be featured. You can email [email protected] with the subject Cannabis for depression.

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