Over 16 million Americans suffer from major depressive disorder, and it is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for those aged 15 to 44. Treatment can be complicated: not all individuals respond well to traditional methods such as antidepressant medication and therapy, and the process of finding the right solution can be time-consuming and challenging. But there is a new alternative method on the horizon: as more states legalize medical marijuana, it's becoming increasingly popular as an aid in the management of symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders.
While there is a wide range of antidepressants available on the market, most come with bothersome side effects and not all will prove effective for every patient. As explained by CNBS, 'one of the reasons many people choose marijuana over traditional pharmaceuticals is that medical marijuana for anxiety and depression isn't a one-size-fits-all treatment. There are a variety of different marijuana strains, each with its own signature effects'. Cannabis treatments can be adjusted to suit the individual and the effects on the person can be observed immediately, allowing for finding a good match quicker than with traditional antidepressants - which often need to be taken for a prolonged period of time before their efficacy becomes apparent. According to a 2018 study by Washington State University researchers, users of medical cannabis noted a 50% reduction in depression levels immediately following the use of cannabis. The study also found that in general, cannabis that was low in THC and high in CBD performed best at reducing perceived symptoms of depression.