Does Frequent Marijuana Use Promote Depression?
So, which is it? Does marijuana help depression or does it cause it? If it makes us all so depressed why is the most commonly reported reason for marijuana use “stress relief”? Since I’ve started thestonermom.com I’ve received many emails from moms using cannabis to relax and keep a handle on their anxiety and depression, just like I do. Are we all wrong? Are we all making ourselves sicker?
My Fight With Depression
I have had a major depressive disorder since puberty. In my early 20’s I started dealing with anxiety attacks as well. In the past my anxiety could get so bad that I would be incapable of driving. Terror of the unknown would ruin many attempts to get out and do stuff. My depression was equally debilitating. A despair that would make me lash out. A hollow feeling in my stomach of complete meaninglessness. I would have depressive episodes that would leave me in bed with the door locked, crying silent tears as I stared out into nothingness.
Shortly after the birth of my first child I went on anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. They work wonders and my anxiety problems have been gone for years now. Medication has also greatly decreased occurrences of those depressive fits. Sadly however, though they did become less common, medication alone has never been able to completely rid me of them.
Some time after I had developed a strong tolerance to marijuana, I realized that certain strains were especially effective at pulling me out of a depressive fit, like a wonder drug. I fell in love with pot all over again. Powerful sativa strains give me a burst of energy and euphoria that is just the right combination to save me from sadness over and over. When I’m edgy and easily annoyed (think bitch mom mode), hits off my bong takes all that unnecessary anger and dumps it down the toilet. And trust me, a happy Mom makes for a happy household. And your spouse will appreciate you getting off the warpath too.
The Problem with Indicas
I will never attest to being an active person. I feel that I do work hard physically, because I bust my hump on my kids all week-long. But I’m not someone who enjoys physical exertion or god forbid sports. However, too much inactivity makes me depressed. Even if I give myself permission to take it easy, I will still find myself getting sad around hour three of not doing anything.
Indicas are powerful at pain relief and relaxing the body. They do unfortunately also give me couch lock. Couch Lock is the effect that takes place after you get high and find that you cannot remove yourself from any cushioned horizontal surface. These drowsy effects are fabulous for the stoner needing some rest and relief, but for me, daytime use of these strains give me the major blahs. Because indicas make me less active, and inactivity leads to my depression, I save indica strains for evenings in bed with the husband.
The Power of Momentum
When we get up and force ourselves to do a few painful but needed tasks, the day starts to build up momentum. Making the bed adds to the momentum you are building, and you are less likely to jump back into said bed. The more you get done, the easier it becomes to accomplish the next goal. Keeping this cycle of accomplishment going throughout the day, in tandem with the right strains of cannabis, is one of my keys to having successful days where I go to bed guilt free.
Loss of momentum occurs when I; check in on my phone every ten minutes, sit down (the cat will come sit on me and then I feel too guilty to move), miss a deadline (real or self-imposed), sit at the piano, enjoy any social media, or indulge in a brain numbing game on my phone. All of these are hot spots that are especially tempting when tired. To keep momentum going I am careful to keep my phone away from me, plugged in, and play “The Couch is Lava” game.
The Couch is Lava game means; Don’t Sit Down. Just keep moving. Keep going. Focus on the next thing. Don’t lose the momentum until you choose to. Know the specific circumstances that trigger a loss of momentum in your day, and develop a strategy to handle it when it comes up. Accomplishment can be a powerful tool for easing depression.
Tips For Stoners Who Suffer From Depression
- Know your Strains. Sativas in the day, Hybrids in the afternoon/early evening, Indicas in the night. Like a wine journal, some medical marijuana users keep detailed notes on how specific strains and methods of consumption affect them. If you are someone who suffers from depression I highly recommend keeping a record a how your marijuana use is working for you. Information is a valuable tool for yourself and your doctor.
- Be Aware of your Needs. Identify the specific times in your life that you need a little extra help from momentum. Be it the witching hour or the moment when your alarm goes off in the morning, every body has times or events that they just don’t like, and these things can lead to feelings of depression. When you are unable to get things done you feel even worse about yourself. Develop strategies for dealing with these stressful times, and put them into action.
- Don’t Sit Down. Just trust me. Sitting down and losing yourself in sloth and is not going to help. At all.
- Get Outside. A dose of Vitamin D can replenish you emotionally. Sometimes the easiest things are the most powerful. Go soak in the sun.
- Keep an eye on tolerance levels. For myself, I see a connection between how much pot it takes for me to get high, and how depressed in general I am about things. When marijuana is no longer effective at pulling you out of the doldrums, the solution is not to smoke more pot. Seek outside help and applaud yourself for being a responsible stoner.
The link between marijuana and depression is still unclear, but it’s easy enough to do your own detective work about how it affects you personally. Record your observations and you’ll have cannabis as natural tool for treating your depression.