As state legalization of medical marijuana becomes more widespread, and with Canada and Mexico jumping on the legalization bandwagon, it is becoming clear how little is known about the link between cannabis and mental health. Research studies have been thwarted due to marijuana being an illegal substance. Yet many patients and doctors are touting the benefits of cannabis with mental health disorders.
Chicken or the Egg?
Often research about medical cannabis treatment for mental health disorders becomes the age-old question—which came first? Some studies seem to prove that overuse of cannabis leads to mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. These studies are based on habitual cannabis users who were diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. In these cases, it is unclear whether the patient already had the disorders before they began smoking cannabis, or if the cannabis use caused the disorder.
Evidence Shows It Relieves Symptoms
While the research is limited, studies have found that cannabis can assist with the relief of symptoms of depression and PTSD. The vast majority of studies on medical cannabis have been with patients with PTSD, and the results are promising. More research needs to be done before it can be clear if cannabis can assist with other mental health issues, such as anxiety. For some patients it seems to help, but for other patients it can make anxiety worse.
Moderation is Key
All of the studies seem to suggest that moderation is key when it comes to using cannabis to treat psychiatric disorders. Too much cannabis could make symptoms worse rather than better, as well as adding another mental health disorder—substance abuse. At the same time, frequent use of cannabis could limit the benefits. Moderation is necessary to ensure that you are getting the benefits from the cannabis treatment without the risks. It is important that if you use medical cannabis, you make sure that you are doing so in a safe and effective way.