Update February 2015: RIA neuroscience study points to possible use of medical marijuana for depression
“In the animal models we studied, we saw that chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids, leading to depression-like behavior,” says RIA senior research scientist Samir Haj-Dahmane, PhD.
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.”
- New Study Finds Marijuana To Be Effective Against Depression [2/15] “Neuroscientists from the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that endocannabinoids — chemical compounds in the brain that activate the same receptors as THC, an active compound in marijuana — may be helpful in treating depression that results from chronic stress.”
- Pot May Improve Cognitive Functioning in Bipolar Disorder “There was a general pattern of superior cognitive functioning in the group with a history of cannabis abuse. These patients performed better than their drug-free cohort on all significant measures, such as processing speed, attention, and working memory.”
- Cannabinoids in bipolar affective disorder: a review and discussion of their therapeutic potential
- Cannabis: GOOD for mental health? Breakthrough study claims it could be used to help treat depression
- Antidepressants No Better Than Placebo: JAMA Study
- Antidepressants Can Cause Long-Term Depression
- Are antidepressants accomplices to school shootings?
What follows is what we believe to be a compelling list of reasons to consider forgoing the use pills and give Cannabis a try when dealing with depression or bipolar disorder.
[Above videos do not mention Cannabis. It covers the seedy side of anti-depressants]
Your Own Personal Hell
“I sold my soul to Big Pharma in exchange for a lab bench and chemical hood….during this time, I’ve made some surprising discoveries about psychiatric meds, which include antidepressants, antipsychotics, stimulants, and anti-anxiety drugs. Understanding what I’ve learned will protect you from the flood of side effects that are now being discovered at breakneck speeds, courtesy of the myriad of patients taking them in the name of mental health.”
Antidepressants strive to increase the levels of a “coping” molecule known as serotonin in the brain. It supposedly helps us find happiness when it’s covered in an avalanche of nastiness. But, it’s never been proven. Still, the drugs attempt to boost serotonin by “selectively” stopping the “reuptake” among brain cells. This is where the whole SSRI acronym came from – “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor.” It’s a slick name, but a stupid idea. Nothing is selective in the body.
While trying to block the reuptake of serotonin, antidepressants can also prevent its release and that of another brain compound known as dopamine. The areas of the brain responsible for release and reuptake of these neurotransmitters are so damn similar (after all, they work on the same molecule) that an antidepressant drug isn’t smart enough to understand which one it is supposed to work on. So it does what any dumb drug would do, it blocks both. That’s why users usually carry a glassy stare in their eye. Fully under the psychiatric spell, they’ve tuned out.
Deep sadness, fear, anger and aggression can set in over time. By removing serotonin and dopamine from the brain, long-term antidepressant users can’t find or feel happiness. Instead, they may become buried in the avalanche of nastiness. And if you can’t find or feel happiness in life, what’s the point? What’s going to stop you from snapping your own neck or spraying bullets on your classmates? Not much when you live in your own personal antidepressant hell.
Think this is all opinion? Read the rest here
Adverse Side Effects of Antidepressants – via Dr. Jeffrey Dach MD
When placebo and SSRI antidepressants are compared and found equally effective, the next question relates to adverse side effects. By definition, placebos have no adverse side effects. However, this is not true for antidepressants which have the following adverse effects: Sexual dysfunction, weight gain and sleep disturbance are the most troubling adverse effects of SSRI anti-depressant therapy. The most common side effects associated with SSRI antidepressants are nausea, headache, nervousness, insomnia and sexual dysfunction. More side effects are listed here.
SSRIs and Suicide Risk
Another troubling adverse effect of SSRI antidepressants is increased suicide first reported by Teicher in 1990. According to David Healy (Let then Eat Prozac), the original clinical trial data was manipulated by moving the suicide cases from the treatment arm over to the placebo arm of the study. This manipulated data was then submitted to the FDA who conveniently looked the other way. This disturbing information was presented at a Cornell University Mar 25, 2009 talk by David Healy which can be seen here on You Tube.
The Army and Military Suicide from SSRIs Antidepressant Use
Another striking finding is the unprecedented increased suicide rate in the military with widespread use of SSRI’s and other psycho active drugs in the Army. Again this is a rather sad commentary, and another nail in the coffin for SSRI drugs as being more harmful than helpful.
This article was originally published on DrDach.com
- Why antidepressants often fail
- Antidepressants in Pregnancy May Delay Developmental Milestones
- Risk of suicide 5 times higher with antidepressant use
- Effexor can cause birth defects and even death
- Antidepressant drugs cause premature birth
- Antidepressants decrease sex drive
- Mental Marijuana
Dr. Khan reviewed clinical trial data submitted to the FDA for nine SSRI antidepressant drugs approved by the FDA between 1985 and 2000. This included 10,030 depressed patients in 52 clinical trials. The Placebo (inert dummy pill) worked better than the SSRI antidepressant pill in more than half the studies. This is astounding information showing the power of the Placebo, or the lack of effectiveness of the SSRI antidepressant drugs.(1)(2)
Irving Kirsh, PHD, wrote a review of his findings regarding the placebo effect for the Huffington Post: Antidepressants: The Emperor’s New Drugs? Here is an excerpt from the article:
As you might imagine, our study was very controversial. How could these drugs, which account for about 15 percent of all prescriptions in the US, be placebos? The antidepressants we studied had been approved by the FDA. If they were just placebos, why did the FDA approve them?
To answer these questions, my colleagues and I used the Freedom of Information Act to get the data that the drug companies had sent to the FDA in the process of getting their medications approved. What we found was even more shocking that what our 1998 study had shown.
The difference between drug and placebo was even smaller in the data sent to the FDA than it was in the published literature. More than half of the clinical trials sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies showed no significant difference at all between drug and placebo. What they did find was differences in side effects, like nausea and sexual dysfunction, produced by antidepressants; and the FDA later determined that SSRIs, the most common type of antidepressants, actually increases the risk of suicide for children, adolescents and young adults. So why did the FDA approve these drugs?
Here is a reprint of the news regarding serious health effects
From Natural News The U.S. is a nation on mind altering antidepressant drugs. An astounding number of Americans, some 27 million, are now taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.
As a handful of doctors and researchers tried to warn the medical community and the public over a decade ago when these drugs began to soar in popularity, SSRIs can affect the brain and body in a host of detrimental ways. For example, evidence has accumulated that these drugs can induce suicidal and murderous actions in teens and cause young women to drop dead from heart arrhythmias. And now there’s another danger to add to the list.
A huge study of over 136,000 women concludes SSRIs significantly increase the odds of stroke and death in women after menopause.
Far more likely to suffer strokes when on SSRI drugs
The new findings, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded, multi-institution Women’s Health Initiative Study, were just published in the December 14 online edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine. Principal investigator Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller, Ph.D., division head of epidemiology and professor of epidemiology and population health at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data from 136,293 women between the ages of 50 and 79 who were not taking antidepressants when they enrolled in the study. They were followed for about six years.
Data from 5,496 women who were taking antidepressants at their first follow-up visit were then compared with data from 130,797 women not taking antidepressants at follow-up. The researchers found no difference in the rate of heart disease (which they assessed by how many women had fatal or non-fatal heart attacks). However, they did find a troublesome difference in the occurrence of another potentially deadly health problem.
Antidepressant users were 45% more likely to experience strokes than women not taking the drugs. What’s more, when the scientists looked at the overall death rates of the research participants, they discovered that the women taking antidepressants had a 32% higher risk of death from all causes compared to non-users.
It wasn’t only SSRIs that raised the stroke risk — so did the older class of antidepressants known as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). However, the SSRIs appeared to be even more dangerous than TCAs because they carried a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke. In other words, the postmenopausal women on SSRIs were more likely to have a stroke caused by bleeding into the brain.
Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller and colleagues noted that even small increases in stroke and death rates can have significant implications for large patient populations. And middle-aged women on SSRIs are a huge patient population. The researchers acknowledged in their statement to the media that antidepressants are among the most widely prescribed drugs in the U.S., especially for postmenopausal women.
As a matter of fact, Big Pharma has aggressively pushed the use of SSRIs in recent years as a “treatment” for mid-life hot flashes and mood swings as well as late life depression.
Predictably, in a statement to the media, the researchers defended the use of antidepressants as valuable drugs because depression can be “debilitating or even fatal”. Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller stated women who may be concerned about taking their antidepressants based on this study should discuss the matter with their doctors.
The researchers also said “it remains unclear” from their data whether antidepressants are solely responsible for the greater mortality rate among users, claiming that depression itself could be related to the increased stroke and death rates.
However, if that’s so, then it appears the antidepressant drugs aren’t working for the women being treated. After all, logic and common sense suggest if depression is linked causally to stroke, then women taking drugs that supposedly alleviate depression would have their stroke risks lowered, not increased.
Now for some good news:
From Science Daily Researchers at McGill University in Montreal in 2007 reported in the Journal of Neuroscience that THC in low doses actually serves as an antidepressant…, producing serotonin. It has been known for many years that depletion of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain leads to depression, so SSRI-class anti-depressants like Prozac and Celexa work by enhancing the available concentration of serotonin in the brain. However, this study offered the first evidence that cannabis can also increase serotonin, at least at lower doses.
Dr. Gobbi and her colleagues were prompted to explore cannabis’ potential as an anti-depressant through anecdotal clinical evidence, she said. “As a psychiatrist, I noticed that several of my patients suffering from depression used to smoke cannabis. And in the scientific literature, we had some evidence that people treated with cannabis for multiple sclerosis or AIDS showed a big improvement in mood disorders. But there were no laboratory studies demonstrating the anti-depressant mechanism of action of cannabis.”
The anti-depressant and intoxicating effects of cannabis are due to its chemical similarity to natural substances in the brain known as “endo-cannabinoids,” which are released under conditions of high stress or pain, explained Dr. Gobbi. They interact with the brain through structures called cannabinoid CB1 receptors. This study demonstrates for the first time that these receptors have a direct effect on the cells producing serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that regulates the mood.
Cannabis Science: The Endocannabinoid System
Marijuana users have a less depressed mood than non-users:
“Over 4400 adult internet users completed The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale and measures of marijuana use. We employed an internet survey in an effort to recruit the most depressed and marijuana-involved participants, including those who might prove unwilling to travel to the laboratory or discuss drug use on the phone or in person.
We compared those who consumed marijuana daily, once a week or less, or never in their lives. Despite comparable ranges of scores on all depression subscales,
…those who used once per week or less had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users. Daily users reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users.
The three groups did not differ on interpersonal symptoms. Separate analyses for medical vs. recreational users demonstrated that medical users reported more depressed mood and more somatic complaints than recreational users, suggesting that medical conditions clearly contribute to depression scores and should be considered in studies of marijuana and depression. These data suggest that adults apparently do not increase their risk for depression by using marijuana.”
Read the full report: Decreased depression in marijuana users
Marijuana proliferates brain cells and boosts mood
From Science Daily Most drugs of abuse decrease the generation of new neurons in the brain, but the effects of marijuana on this process, called neurogenesis (creation of new brain cells), had not been clear.
In a paper in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Xia Zhang and colleagues from University of Saskatchewan show that a potent and synthetic cannabinoid (active ingredients in marijuana) promotes neurogenesis. This drug also exerts anti-anxiety and antidepressant-like effects.
The researchers suggest that there is a positive correlation between increased adult neurogenesis and modified behavior following chronic cannabinoid treatment.
These data expand the existing knowledge about the positive roles cannabinoids and their receptors play in brain processing and medicine. Moreover, cannabinoids are perhaps the only illicit drug that can enhance adult neurogenesis and subsequently modify behavior.
Marijuana can elevate your mood
From Disabled World: Even though mild anxiety is a common side effect in some users, cannabis can elevate your mood and expand the mind
“With the expansiveness that occurs with marijuana, the subject may begin to notice infinite possibilities to raise the quality of his/her life that would otherwise have remained hidden from normal, defensive consciousness. And feelings of health and happiness naturally lead to hope, which of itself can be curative.” – Joan Bello
Many obsessions or quick fixes to psychological problems can be alleviated by Marijuana as well. Many people eat because they’re depressed. If the depression is treated, the obsession to eat should be gone as well.
Marijuana and bipolar disorder
“Bipolar affective disorder is often poorly controlled by prescribed drugs. Cannabis use is common in patients with this disorder and anecdotal reports suggest that some patients take it to alleviate symptoms of both mania and depression. We undertook a literature review of cannabis use by patients with bipolar disorder and of the neuropharmacological properties of cannabinoids suggesting possible therapeutic effects in this condition…” Read entire abstract
Oslo, Norway: Cannabis use is associated with “improved neurocognition” in subjects diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to clinical trial data published online by the journal Psychological Medicine.
Researchers at Norway’s University of Oslo, Institute of Psychiatry investigated the association between cannabis use and neurocognition in 133 patients with bipolar disorder. Researchers reported that subjects who used cannabis performed better than non-users on a series of neurocognitive tests. Authors determined that marijuana use was associated with “statistically significant” improvement in attention, executive function, verbal fluency, logistical memory-learning, and logical memory-recall.” Read Abstract
See Also: Lester Grinspoon of Harvard University: The Use of Cannabis as a Mood Stabilizer in Bipolar Disorder: Anecdotal Evidence and the Need for Clinical Research
Related articles: PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
*Marijuana could alleviate symptoms of PTSD Isreali study released September 2009
*Dude, where’s my trauma? Marijuana could treat PTSD Time magazine
*Oregon Toxicologist Says Treatment for PTSD Should Include Cannabis
*Rat Study: Marijuana May Ease PTSD
*Marijuana Vs. Anti-Depressants for PTSD Marijuana Wins Hands Down
From one of our commenters in response to “Cannabinoids – every body likes them, some bodies need them“
Thank you for writing this. This is a wonderful article and I ran across it because I was looking for theories regarding endocannabinoid deficiencies.
I have battled clinical depression, which at times has been totally debilitating, for about 16 years now (12 of which I have been on pharmaceutical medication). I was advised early on to stay away from drugs and alcohol to try to stay mentally stable and of course I lumped marijuana into that category.
I have tried countless pharmaceutical anti-depressants over the past 12 years; some of them made me feel like a zombie, some of them had terrible side effects, and some of them were just completely ineffective. I finally found one that worked “best”—and by “best” I mean it was the most tolerable and most effective of the ones I’d tried. I continued to be mildly to moderately depressed on this medication, but again, this was the “best” one I had encountered in 12 years.
A year and a half ago I started looking into alternative treatments because I was unhappy with the side-effects of the anti-depressant I was taking (hand tremors, headaches, insomnia). I was also hoping I could find something that would be more effective for treating my depression. I had been hearing a lot about medical marijuana so I decided to do some research into whether or not that could be used to treat depression, even though I was convinced that marijuana was “bad” for my mental health.
I spent weeks researching cannabis, its potential risks and benefits, the mechanism through which it interacts with the brain, etc. I finally came to the conclusion that most of what I had learned about cannabis was a complete lie (it kills brain cells, it causes cancer, it compromises your immune system, etc.) and I also realized that the risks and side-effects of any of the countless anti-depressants I had tried over the years were FAR more significant than with cannabis.
I started using cannabis on a daily basis, ONCE a day before I went to bed, and within a short period of time I felt like my old self again, for the first time in over a decade. After about 6 months of nightly cannabis use I decided that I would stop taking my pharmaceutical anti-depressant. I tapered myself off that drug—and was finally free of the associated hand tremors, headaches, and insomnia—and then continued to use cannabis once a day. I had no problems with depression, whatsoever.
Recently I experimented with ceasing my cannabis use to find out whether or not it was really acting as an antidepressant or whether I had just stopped having problems with depression and had mistakenly attributed that to the cannabis. I felt fine for about 2 weeks after I stopped my nightly use of cannabis. During the third week, though, I started to feel depressed, and by the fourth week I was having days were I was VERY depressed, crying for no reason, feelings of worthlessness, etc. I then decided that the cannabis MUST have been working as my anti-depressant after all, so I went back to using it once a day before bedtime.
Within 2 days I felt COMPLETELY better again—that is, I went from a moderate depression to feeling no depression whatsoever. I have NEVER had that fast of a response with any pharmaceutical drug I have tried in the past; those have all taken weeks to have any effect (if they had an effect at all), and even then the effect was not enough to rid me of my depression completely.
Thanks to cannabis I feel like I have my life back. Please understand I am just a person with chronic depression that was never relieved by pharmaceutical drugs and I am NOT encouraging anyone else with mental health problems to follow this advice. HOWEVER, there is absolutely NO DOUBT in my mind, after all my experience with pharmaceutical drugs and more recently cannabis, that MY depression is somehow linked to an endocannabinoid deficiency.
I feel like 17 years of my life were stolen from me by a system that considers cannabis a “street drug” and therefore forces people with depression caused by endocannabinoid deficiencies into a system where they are treated with dangerous and ineffective pharmaceutical drugs. Please understand, I am not saying that these pharmaceutical drugs are ineffective in ALL cases, but in my personal case they were NOT very effective and I never ended up “feeling like myself again” the way I do when I use cannabis instead.
I hope that one day scientists and doctors can freely study the theory of endocannabinoid deficiency without the government and bureaucrats standing in the way. I also hope that people who want to supplement cannabinoids when their body doesn’t produce enough can use the natural plant form instead of being bullied into using the less-effective, more expensive pharmaceutical versions of cannabinoid-based drugs.