Can Marijuana Treat Depression and PTSD?

Can Marijuana Treat Depression and PTSD?

Marijuana appears to ease symptoms of depression caused by chronic stress, new research with animals suggests. The study focused on endocannabinoids, which are brain chemicals similar to substances found in marijuana.

“In the animal models we studied, we saw that chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids, leading to depression-like behavior,” says Samir Haj-Dahmane, a senior research scientist at the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo.

Stabilize Mood, Ease Depression

Endocannabinoids are naturally produced chemical compounds in the brain that affect motor control, cognition, emotions, and behavior. As the name suggests, they are similar to the chemicals found in marijuana (Cannabis sativa) and its active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

“Chronic stress is one of the major causes of depression,” Haj-Dahmane says. “Using compounds derived from cannabis—marijuana—to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.”

The research, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, is preliminary, Haj-Dahmane says.

Relief from PTSD

“Our research thus far has used animal models; there is still a long way to go before we know whether this can be effective in humans. However, we have seen that some people who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder have reported relief using marijuana.”

The next step is to see if using a marijuana extract, cannabidiol (CBD), restores normal behaviors in animals without leading to dependence on the drug.

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Medical marijuana remains a controversial issue. Although 23 states and the District of Columbia have approved its use to provide relief for health problems such as glaucoma, nerve pain, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and nausea from chemotherapy, some experts are concerned that medical use of marijuana may normalize attitudes about the drug and lead people—especially youth—to believe it is completely safe.

Disclosure Statement: The National Institute of Mental Health provided funding for the study.

Source: University at Buffalo

Original Study

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