Mixing Marijuana and Antidepressants: What You Need to Know
You don’t need a study to recognize that mood elevation is one of the prime reasons people consume marijuana. It is, after all, called “getting high.” Still, studies do exist, such as one in the journal Depression and Anxiety that notes that easing anxiety is among the top five symptoms for which people in North America use medical marijuana.
When a blue mood persists or anxiety is chronic, however, many people choose to take an antidepressant medication, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), or sertraline (Zoloft). According to the American Psychological Association , nearly 8% of people between the ages of 20 and 39 have taken prescription antidepressants in any given month.
If you’re already among this population, or you’re considering trying a prescription antidepressant and you’re a regular cannabis user, you’ll probably want to know how these meds and weeds interact. Do they enhance each other? Undermine the benefits? Are there any dangers to continuing weed use while you’re on an antidepressant?
Daniele Piomelli, Ph.D. , director of the University of California , Irvine, Center for the Study of Cannabis , said, “Truth be told, there is precious little work done” on this topic.
“There have been a few trials that looked at CBD or THC for anxiety and depression going back to the 1980s,” he said. “In general, the results have been positive, showing that cannabis has some effectiveness in countering mood disorders.” But, he added, the number of study participants was so small — just 25 in one case — “that it’s impossible to draw any medical conclusions.”
What we do know, he said, is that our built-in endocannabinoid system (ECS) plays an important role in mood regulation, including stress disorders and major depression. An endocannabinoid called anandamide, which has been dubbed “the bliss molecule,” is especially vital to our body’s ability to cope with stress in a healthy manner.
A study that Piomelli led in 2015 demonstrated that anandamide heightens motivation and happiness. Now, he’s looking at whether an anandamide deficiency might be linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Synergies for Weed and Antidepressants
This research raises the prospect of synergy between marijuana and antidepressants. Could a few hits of your favorite strain along with 10 or 20 milligrams of paroxetine (Paxil) or Prozac counter distress more effectively than either alone?
“That is very possible,” Piomelli said. “We’ve certainly heard anecdotally from a lot of people that cannabis helps them with stress and depression and I have no problem believing them. But, the endocannabinoid system is a very fine-tuned, delicate machine. It’s evolved over millennia to regulate our ability to deal with stress in a positive way and it can easily be thrown off balance.”
The challenge in self-medicating with marijuana for depression or anxiety is it’s difficult to find the right dose. Too little, and there’s no impact; too much, and especially for novice users, there’s a risk of experiencing a panic attack. Without professional oversight, self-medicators also may overlook some other underlying condition.
“When physicians prescribe antidepressants or antipsychotic drugs,” Piomelli said, “they’re very careful, typically starting out with a very low dose and if that’s insufficient, increasing the dose slowly until the response is satisfactory.
“Now imagine a plant, like cannabis, that comes in a thousand different shapes and forms. You go to a dispensary and you’re relying on budmasters to help you navigate everything.” Even the most astute budmaster can’t guarantee you’ll be able to repeat the experience you had a week ago.
“Reproducibility is complicated,” Piomelli said. “Because cannabis products aren’t regulated by the FDA, you can’t count on consistency. You might find a product that is useful to you but when you go back to the same dispensary and purchase it again, the amount of THC, cannabidiol (CBD) , or other cannabinoids it contains might be slightly different and you’ll have a different response.”
One challenge to researching how cannabis might interact with antidepressant medications has been the difficulty to reproduce conditions for clinical study, argues Daniele Piomelli, Ph.D., director of the University of California, Irvine, Center for the Study of Cannabis. Any variation in the THC, cannabidiol (CBD), or other cannabinoid levels in marijuana could produce different experiences and interactions. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps News)
How Weed Impacts Potency of Meds
There’s another knotty issue: Namely, experts don’t know how weed affects what’s known as the “pharmacokinetics” properties of antidepressant medication. That term refers to how the body absorbs, processes, and disposes of a drug.
“If cannabis consumption inhibits the metabolization of an antidepressant drug that would essentially increase its potency because there’s more of the drug hanging around the body,” Piomelli said. “This is a very important element of which we really have no understanding.” The lack of data, he said, can put physicians in danger of prescribing an inappropriate dose of an antidepressant medication. And that, in turn, could mean a delay in relieving depression or even a worsening of the symptoms.
To safeguard against this, Piomelli recommended a few things. First, have a frank conversation with your physician about your cannabis use in the past, present, and future. If your doctor isn’t open to this conversation, you’ll probably want to find one who is.
“This is something we have to work on as a society,” Piomelli said. “As a physician, your job is to help your patients feel better. Cannabis is used by millions and millions of people in the U.S. It’s now a legal product in a majority of the states. There’s no excuse for doctors not knowing how it interacts with the body.”
Still, since there’s so much we don’t know about potential interactions between antidepressants and cannabis, Piomelli said that finding the right balance between both substances takes a lot of experimentation and has to be personalized to each patient. “That might not be what people want to hear,” Piomelli said, “but it’s where we are right now.”
The Case Against Quitting Cold Turkey
Whatever you do, Piomelli said, if you decide to start taking an antidepressant, don’t quit cannabis cold turkey, especially if you’ve been a heavy user.
“The effects of cannabis withdrawal include depression, irritability, anxiety, loss of sleep and appetite, even suicidal ideation,” he said. Plus, keep in mind that it takes several weeks for antidepressants to begin working, and even longer to find the optimal dose.
If you intend to cut down your cannabis use as you introduce antidepressants, or, conversely, if you’re currently taking an antidepressant and want to see if you can lower the dose by combining it with nightly vaping, go slow on titrating the dosages of both. As much as you can, try to be consistent in the cannabis products you use.
“If you shift to another kind of cannabis with a higher or lower level of THC, you might imbalance your endocannabinoid system and lose the ability to control your symptoms or precipitate a deeper depression or greater anxiety,” Piomelli said.
You might also want to throw non-psychoactive tools into the mix, like mindfulness meditation, yoga, or tai chi.
“There are lots of things,” Piomelli said, “that don’t come in a pill and can help lift your mood and counter stress.”
Feature image: With antidepressant medication and cannabis use prevalent in segments of the population, what happens when weed and meds are combined? Health experts cannot say for certain. (Gina Coleman/Weedmaps News)
Mixing Marijuana and Antidepressants: What You Need to Know You don’t need a study to recognize that mood elevation is one of the prime reasons people consume marijuana. It is, after all, called
Is It Safe To Smoke Weed While On Prozac?
As marijuana grows more accessible for patients suffering from depression and anxiety, it is expected that marijuana might have interactions with other drugs.
The cost of healthcare is on the rise, and as the disease becomes stronger, our ability to manage symptoms is becoming harder. Conditions have a funny of affecting more than just the person going through it but rather everyone else in their immediate ecosystem too.
People suffering from chronic diseases are continually looking for treatments that move beyond the traditional or mainstream. Marijuana has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, but due to its illicit status in the States, its actual medicinal values have not been explored thoroughly.
Since depression is a mood disorder, it affects the way a person’s entire being functions. Depression is known to come in phases.
It causes intense feelings of hopelessness and sadness to the person in the middle of the episode. Daily activities, including social commitments, school, work, appetite, and sleep, are all difficult to carry out.
Scientifically, there are three significant parts of the brain involved in the middle of a Major Depressive Disorder. The hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, and amygdala.
Scientists believe that it is cortisol levels in a person’s brain that trigger the beginning of a Major Depressive Disorder. Cortisol is considered to be the brain’s built-in alarm system. It is the primary stress hormone produced by our bodies.
A healthy brain can regulate these levels, but a mind going through a depressive episode has continuously elevated levels of Cortisol.
Most cells in the body are cortisol receptors, and due to the high level of this hormone, the body can start to alter or shut down bodily functions that get in its way.
These functions can be digestive, reproductive, or even immune in nature.
What is Prozac?
Prozac is one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants on the market. To the point that it is one of the top 15 most widely consumed drugs in the United States of America. It is used to treat major depressive disorder, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Also called fluoxetine, Prozac belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). These drugs function by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.
Serotonin is called the ‘Feel good hormone” and is responsible for carrying messages between brain cells and regulate our wellbeing, appetite, good mood, and also the body clock.
Prozac blocks the absorption of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin levels if regulated, helps the brain cells transmit messages. This is how the depressive symptoms are restricted with the help of Prozac.
Side Effects of Prozac
Prozac might be widely prescribed to treat several issues related to the brain, but that does not mean it does not have its flaws.
Antidepressants in both adults and children have been seen to increase cases of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Close monitoring of patients needs to be carried out to ensure that the patients remain safe.
Depression is a known side effect of depression, but the chances according to multiple studies, increase when antidepressants enter the picture. Caregivers and families have to be warned about changes in behavior, agitation, irritability, and any other psychiatric and non-psychiatric indicators that may lead to fatal consequences.
Other more common side effects include drowsiness, nausea, anxiety, tiredness, loss of appetite, sweating, and dizziness.
Though it is important to remember if the doctor has prescribed this medicine, the benefits just might be outweighing the harm that those medicines would do to your body.
A doctor needs to be consulted immediately if any of the below side effects turn up sever mood swings, easy bruising, tremors, significant weight loss, decreased sex drive, and changes in sexual ability.
Cannabis is a Naturally occurring drug that comes from the Indian hemp plant called Cannabis sativa and Indica.
Cannabis is classified as a depressant drug. This does not mean that you become depressed if you take it, but rather your central nervous system slows down after you receive it.
Cannabis has two primary cannabinoids, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Both cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system, just in different ways.
THC gives a euphoric feeling to the user and is the reason behind the hallucinogenic effects, whereas CBD is the opposite. CBD binds with serotonin, the chemical responsible for our wellbeing and happiness, amongst other things.
Patients experiencing mental health conditions – from chronic pain to PTSD and depression- have been found to benefit from the administration of medical cannabis.
Research for marijuana and depression is in its preliminary stages. But even this research has been promising.
In one study, the researchers found that endocannabinoids found in cannabis may be helpful in treating depression that results from chronic stress. The study pointed out that chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids. And this affects our cognition, emotion, and behavior.
Further links are being found between depression and the use of marijuana to manage the symptoms. Using compounds derived from cannabis could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression.
Prozac and Marijuana
This is a complicated question to answer as multiple considerations need to be taken care of before you decide to start double dosing.
A significant issue with mixing the two is the emergence of a problem called hypomania. A mild form of mania, it is characterized by phases of elation and hyperactivity.
If you have any three of the below-mentioned symptoms, you are experiencing hypomania.
- Increased energy in the absence of sleep
- Always up for risky but pleasurable adventures
- Inability to stay focused and a distracted demeanor
- Talkative behavior
- Rapid thoughts
- Subjective Experiences
- Inflated ego or grandiosity regarding oneself
Hypomanic episodes do not require hospitalization. You can, on certain occasions, see a complete reversal of a person’s personality after hypomania. A person might become more friendly or outgoing after an episode.
In conclusion, it might not be deadly to mix the two, but there are always risks associated with having a cocktail of drugs, irrespective of what supposed research says. We would advise you to stick with one for maximum benefit and your safety. Consult a doctor before you go rogue on yourself.
Marijuana is not a miracle cure, but it can help you live a happier, more fulfilling life. Chat with us if you need assistance in getting a medical marijuana recommendation.
Is It Safe To Smoke Weed While On Prozac? As marijuana grows more accessible for patients suffering from depression and anxiety, it is expected that marijuana might have interactions with other