Medical Cannabis for Depression


A study entitled "Assessment of Clinical Outcomes of Medicinal Cannabis Therapy for Depression: Analysis From the UK Medical Cannabis Registry" that was published in the journal Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics explored the ability of cannabis-derived cannabinoids to "reduce depressive symptoms" while noting a current "paucity of clinical evidence."


The study defined depression as "a mental health condition that has been shown to be associated with impaired health-related quality of life (HRQoL)." It reported a need to address HRQoL in those suffering from depression "via a holistic mental health approach, including appropriate pharmacological treatments alongside psychological and social measures."


The researchers noted a number of problems with conventional antidepressant pharmaceutical drugs, including low response rates (roughly 50 percent as revealed by one study) and the fact that the efficacy of such commonly prescribed drugs may be limited to those with severe depression, not those with mild to moderate cases of the disorder. Another concern with such pharmaceutical approaches to the treatment of depression is a slew of potential negative side effects.


The study involved 129 patients, all of whom featured a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder and a mean age of 36. Males constituted 74 percent of study participants, with 26 percent females. Participants consumed cannabiswhat the study dubbed "cannabis-based medicinal products," or CBMPsin a variety of forms, including "sublingual, oral, or vaporized routes of administration."


The study found that treatment with CBMPs "was associated with statistically significant improvements in depression," including decreases in anxiety and improvement in sleep. Study participants were surveyed after one, three, and six months of treatment with CBMPs, with improvements noted in depression, anxiety, and sleep after each survey.


A number of adverse events were noted over the six-month period of CBMP consumption. Overall, 14 percent of the study subjects reported adverse events, the most common of which were fatigue and insomnia.


The research report concluded that "treatment with CBMPs was associated with improvements in depression after one, three, and six months of treatment" in patients who suffered major depressive disorder in the United Kingdom. It found that cannabis use among those suffering from severe depression was associated with "improvements in anxiety, sleep quality, and overall HRQoL."


Summarized the scientists: "This suggests that CBMPs could have antidepressant effects, although the limitations of the study design mean that a causal relationship cannot be proven."


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