Studies show that marijuana is an effective treatment against a number of chronic pain and illnesses. Depression can be added to that list. Researchers from the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that endocannobinoids — chemical compounds that are found in the brain naturally that activate the same receptors for THC — the active compound in marijuana, may be helpful in treating depression that results from chronic stress.
Neuroscientists studied on rats and found that chronic stress reduced their production of endocannobinoids. This affects our emotions and behavior, and have been linked to reduced pain sensations, anxiety, increases in appetite, and overall feelings of well-being. The body naturally produces these compounds that are similar to the chemicals in marijuana. Therefore, reduction of endocannobinoid production could be a reason that chronic stress is a major risk factor in the development of depression.
When the team gave marijuana cannobinoids to the rats, they found it to be an effective way to restore endocannobinoid levels in their brains, alleviating some of their symptoms of depression. During the university press release, lead researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane stated, “Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannobinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”
Although this is significant findings and data, the relationship between marijuana and depression is complex. Some research has suggested that regular and heavy marijuana users are at a higher risk for depression, despite the fact that a causal link between both has not been established. More research is required to determine whether, and how, marijuana can be used as a clinical treatment for patients with depression.