According to the Journal of the American Medical Association there were more than 130 million prescriptions for anti-depressants written in 1998. More recently, water tests in Arlington, TX showed trace amounts of the active ingredient in Prozac in the city water supply. Both of these things are signs that depression is a serious problem in the United States.
But what is depression? Isn't it just being really sad? Actually, no.
Clinical depression can be caused by a number of factors, and profound sadness is just one of the symptoms. Some of the most common causes are biological, where there is literally a chemical imbalance in the brain. Other biological factors are caused by hormonal disorders like PMS (premenstrual syndrome) and PMDD (premenstrual dysthymic disorder), or even post-partum imbalances and menopause. Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that women are twice as likely to be depressed as men.
Other factors causing depression include genetics - it tends to run in families, though no single gene has yet been identified - stress, and chronic illness and disability. Depression also comes in a form formerly known as "Manic Depression" and more correctly called "Bipolar Disorder" where the patient cycles between depressive and manic states. Of course alcohol use, especially if you drink to excess, can also result in depression.
most cases, depression is treated with prescription medication, like Paxil, Prozac, and Zoloft, but recent information has pointed to cannabis as a possible treatment as well, and one without the side effects of sleeplessness, sexual dysfunction, and agitation, at that.
Used as a relaxant, cannabis helps curb the sleeplessness that comes from depression, as well as soothes the anxiety that often presents as a symptom. Since it also offers has "euphoric" properties, cannabis also helps lift the mood, adding a little perkiness to the patient's outlook.
With bipolar patients, despite some worries about the use of marijuana making the manic part of the cycle worse, most who have used the drug report that they cycle less often, and feel more stable in general.
Some doctors claim that long-term use of cannabis can actually cause depression but there is no concrete evidence to support this. A recent Australian study found that once other factors, like tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, other drugs, etc., were eliminated, there was no real difference in the number of depressed people who had or hadn't used marijuana.
Within the medical marijuana community there is a debate over which strain of cannabis is the best choice for treating depression. The patients seem to know best, especially since each case of depression is unique, but generally speaking Indica-dominant strains are more relaxing, while Sativa-dominant strains are more uplifting.
I smoked with a friend about 3 years ago and I felt like my old self again. But the truth is that I need to work through issues in therapy along with the meds that have made me gain weight...I know how crappy it feels to "skip the meds" thinking I feel better...only to spend the next few days in bed feeling like death warmed over.
This isn't the first board I've seen singing the praises of MMJ...Everyone keep together and it will be available for us soon. Keep strong.