Will Medical Marijuana Help Reduce Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression

January 28, 2020

If you felt sad you couldn’t shake or lose interest in things you once loved, you could suffer from depression— and you’re not alone. Depression affects about 350 million people across the globe that has trusted the source. This common mood disorder is the worldwide leading cause of Trusted Disability Source. Yet many people suffering from depression do not get the help they need.

As more states legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use, more and more people turn to cannabis in the hopes of treating anxiety disorder (GAD). While scientific research is still scarce in this field, there are anecdotal and recent marijuana scientific reports that provide a soothing sensation that momentarily relieves the anxiety symptoms for many people.

Scientific studies in regards to marijuana to anxiety and depression

A 2014 study published by the Hawaii Journal of Medicine & Public Health highlighted the potential benefit of medical marijuana in pain management. Study participants registered a 64 percent reduction in pain while using marijuana. Many also experienced a reduction in anxiety and sleeping better while using the drug.

Research in 2012 investigated cannabis as a means of controlling spasticity in people with multiple sclerosis. On average, while using this procedure, participants had about 30 percent less spasticity.

A study by Washington State University has examined how cannabis combats stress, anxiety, and depression by looking at various strains and amounts of marijuana inhaled by patients at home.

There was a publication of this study in the Journal of Affective Disorders, indicating that cannabis inhalation may significantly reduce short-term levels of depression, anxiety, and stress, but may lead to aggravating overall depression feelings over time.

This new study is among the first attempts by US scientists to determine how cannabis with varying THC and CBD concentrations impacts the feelings of well-being of medicinal cannabis patients when inhaled outside a laboratory.

Scientists at Buffalo University have begun to look at medicinal marijuana as a potential treatment for chronic stress-induced depression. The school’s Research Institute on Addictions (RIA) focused explicitly on endocannabinoids and brain chemicals.

These are chemical compounds produced naturally. We play a role in motor control, memory, and behavioral emotions. They also have a similar chemical makeup to cannabis, too.

The scientists conducted their studies on animals and not on humans. Yet they’ve found that chronic stress can suppress endocannabinoid production in the brain. They found this can lead to behavior similar to depression. After inducing cannabis into the system can assist restore normal levels and function; hence will result to ease symptoms of depression.

What Are anxiety and depression?

Anxiety is a feeling of concern or fear, and it’s common to have a certain level of anxiety in everyday life. What’s not common is persistent anxiety which interferes with daily life. Many people are turning to marijuana for anxiety.

There are different types of clinically recognized anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder.

On the other hand, depression refers to a frequent and severe medical condition that negatively affects the way you feel,  the way you think, and how you act. Fortunately, it’s also treatable.

Depression results in feelings of sadness or a loss of interest for once loved hobbies. It can contribute to a variety of emotional and physical issues and can impair the ability of a person to function at work and home.

Medical marijuana combats stress, anxiety, and depression

Research to see if medical marijuana is fighting stress and anxiety with THC only strains that have been put into a capsule-but this study examines the impact of cannabis when it is inhaled.

Carrie Cuttler is a clinical assistant professor of psychology at Washington State University, and the author of the study, says “Existing research on the effects of cannabis on depression, anxiety, and stress is very limited. Has been conducted almost exclusively in a laboratory using orally administered THC tablets.

The team found that one cannabis puff high in CBD and low in THC was ideal for the reduction of depression symptoms, two puffs of any form of cannabis were adequate to reduce anxiety symptoms. In contrast, ten or more cannabis puffs high in CBD and lower in THC provided the greatest stress reduction.

Cuttler continued to say that “There seems to be a lot of customers who assume that more THC is always better. However, the study shows that CBD is also a very significant cannabis component and can improve some of the positive effects of THC.

Study results found that patients who inhale cannabis experienced a significant decrease in their negative emotions, with the incidence of depression reducing in 89.3 percent of sessions. Nevertheless, the study also showed that depression symptoms were intensified in a total of 3.2 percent of sessions, and 7.5 percent of sessions didn’t change.

Anxiety symptoms have been decreased in a total of 93.5 percent of monitored sessions but have been worsened in 2.1 percent of sessions, and signs have not improved for 4.4 percent of sessions.

Stress symptoms decreased in 93.3 percent of monitored sessions, increased in 2.7 percent of sessions, and no improvement in recorded stress levels occurred in 4 percent of sessions.

The study also compared the gender-specific effect of cannabis on these symptoms and found that women reported a greater reduction in anxiety symptoms than men.


The evidence is decidedly mixed, and whether or not marijuana can benefit someone with a mental health condition is not at all clear. It would also come down to the particular response of an individual, similar to how each individual responds differently to different psychiatric drugs.

 Well-done research studies seem to suggest that marijuana would help some people, although it may not help others. To determine where you fall in the group remains a forward-looking research exercise.

It may take a few more years before we get a more accurate view of the mental illness benefits and drawbacks of medical marijuana. Until then, if you feel comfortable doing so, you might do it, but as always, before you try any medication, you should check with your medical or mental health provider.