Experiencing depression? If so, you are not alone and are among the millions of Americans plagued by this mood disorder. A recent article shared statistical details about how depression in the U.S. is on the rise.
Apparently the diagnosis of depression increased 33% between years 2011 and 2014. (1) Previously, The National Center for Health Statistics reported antidepressant use jumped 65% in 15 years between 1999 and 2014: from 7.7% of Americans to 12.7% for those 12 and older, twice as high for women than men, and 19.1% for those 60 and older. (2) I’m guessing it’s an even higher percentage today.
The good news, they say, is that “universal depression screenings” are happening more routinely, and that this mood disorder is no longer in the closet: people are talking about it and treating it…with pharmaceutical drugs.
I am left to wonder why this depressive state has grown by leaps and bounds? For one thing, there’s a whole lot that has changed in the world since January 1, 2000. It’s enough to make anyone depressed. I probably missed something, below, but here are the examples I can recall:
- September 11, 2001
- The Patriot Act
- Ongoing terrorist attacks both domestic and international
- Mass murders at schools
- Increasing opioid addiction and deaths
- Multiple wars in the Middle East
- Intense natural disasters: fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, flooding, blizzards and droughts
- The Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011
- The economic crisis of 2008
- Overpriced real estate
- Earnings that don’t match the cost-of-living
- Increased homelessness
- The divisive presidential election of 2016 and presidency of Donald Trump
Of course, this list does not include challenging personal situations most of us experience from time to time.
Pharmaceutical companies are the big winners.
Though most of the antidepressant-package inserts warn of one or another side-effect, pharmaceutical antidepressants are the ubiquitous ‘go to” solution and coping mechanism for depression. Additionally, besides the side-effects, many people report difficulty in getting off antidepressants when they are ready to do so.
Depression has been linked to increased neuroinflammation. It is common knowledge now that inflammation is a precursor to many different disease processes.
Enter therapeutic cannabis.
Cannabis is known to reduce inflammation and holds great promise in studies about depression. (3) Due to its chemical compounds, especially THC and CBD, actual healing, not just symptom masking, can occur to restore deficient parts of the brain and immune system. (4) It is non-toxic, cost-effective and has little to no side effects whatsoever.
“…the team analyzed data from Strainprint, a mobile application cannabis users can use to track changes in symptoms after using different doses and cannabis chemotypes. Overall, self-reported symptoms of depression decreased by 50 percent.” (5)
So why don’t more people try cannabis medicinally before heading down the pharma trail? I suggest there are three main reasons:
- The leftover stigma promoted by the Reefer Madness movie propaganda of 1936 and subsequent 1937 Marahuana Tax Act
- The preference to trust doctors and what they prescribe
- A general lack of knowledge about therapeutic, not recreational, cannabis use
A friend of mine used cannabis medicinally to help her recover from depression after nothing else worked. She said that it gave her back her life, which inspired her to share her experience with others.
As far as I can tell, the multiple devastating events since the start of this 21st century have radically changed the world from as we once knew it: disorienting at best and depressing at worst for those who know the difference. That said, I believe it is still absolutely possible to take flight from depression and remain emotionally and mentally well through it all with the assistance of responsible, therapeutic cannabis use.
The world may not change in ways we prefer but we can.
(1) Olivia Goldhill, Depression diagnosis is up 33% in the US, and that’s a good thing. May 14, 2018
(2) Laura A. Pratt, Ph.D., Debra J. Brody, M.P.H., and Qiuping Gu, M.D., Ph.D.. Antidepressant Use Among Persons Aged 12 and Over: United States, 2011–2014. August 15, 2017
(3) A. K. Walker, A. Kavelaars, C. J. Heijnen, and R. Dantzer, Neuroinflammation and Comorbidity of Pain and Depression. January 2014
(4) de Mello Schier AR, de Oliveira Ribeiro NP, Coutinho DS, Machado S, Arias-Carrión O, Crippa JA, Zuardi AW, Nardi AE, Silva AC, Antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol: a chemical compound of Cannabis sativa. 2014
(5) Cuttler C, et al., Cannabis use temporarily eases symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress. April 24, 2018