Mental Illness and Marijuana Use

**Spoiler alert: this is a controversial topic. Just because I’m sharing my opinion doesn’t mean I think yours is wrong or that you should or shouldn’t use marijuana in your own treatment. This is simply what I believe from my own experience and research.**

With something like 34 states now having legalized marijuana in some form it’s not surprising that there’s a huge pro-pot movement for health-related reasons, including mental illness. Especially anxiety and depression, but also bipolar, OCD, BPD, and others.

But does it actually do more harm than good?

That depends on who you ask. I’ve been researching this for a while and getting quite a bit of conflicting information. My thoughts at this point: there just isn’t enough research. There are some studies that show that yes, marijuana does help with symptoms of depression and anxiety but can actually increase problems with those who are bipolar or schizophrenic by causing more manic episodes, psychosis, and hallucinations.

And none of this research includes CBD, a derivative of marijuana, which is having a huge movement right now as well. You can find it everywhere. Online, in smoke shops, at malls. It contains little to no THC, the active ingredient in marijuana that makes you feel high, with all of the benefits of marijuana-increases appetite, euphoria, pain relief, etc.

What’s interesting is that there has been extensive research on the benefits of marijuana use for cancer patients and how much it can and does help them, especially with pain and appetite, but not as much in the way of mental health. Obviously, depending on the strain of weed you are using you can feel elated, calm, sleepy, hungry or even paranoid and anxious.

My personal experiences we’re mostly in high school and young adulthood and I was not on any medications at the time so I can’t say that it helped me, but I can’t say it didn’t. Mostly, I just felt varying degrees of high.

One study on marijuana use in teens that I read said that they can’t be sure how accurate the data is due to factors including their brains still developing, predisposition for mental illness, genetics, and long term effects.

So how do I feel? Here’s where the controversial part comes in-I don’t agree with marijuana as a treatment for mental illness. I think (and I’m generalizing here) it’s self-medicating, similar to alcohol, and used mostly to suppress feelings that should be discussed with a therapist. I’m pro psychiatric medication and I can say that I’ve had a major amount of personal experience with that.

I believe that if you work closely with a good psychiatrist to come up with a medication regimen in conjunction with a therapist to discuss past trauma, behavioral things, symptoms, etc. It is highly successful. It’s not easy though. Many people give up because the medication gamut is a long, hard one. Generally, they won’t get it right the first time and it’s an ongoing process.

Another obstacle is honesty. You have to be brutally honest with your doctor and yourself. Are the pills working? Why not? Do they make you feel like a zombie? No sex drive? Peeing all the time? More anxiety? It’s uncomfortable to be so honest but the doctors can’t do their job if we aren’t 100% honest.

I can’t begin to tell you how many medications and combos of meds I’ve been on and off of. Not including dose changes. Plus all the symptoms coming along with that. Was it worth it though? Absolutely. I’m the most stable I’ve ever been in my entire life. I don’t want to die. I can get out of bed every day and go to work. I’m not crippled by depression, or so manic I can’t stop pacing my hallway at one in the morning. It is freeing. It was a long journey to get here but it was completely worth it.

So do I think you should smoke weed to feel better? No. But that’s my opinion. Your life is not mine. So let me know in the comments what your thoughts are. I love to hear the other side of things. Have you had success with marijuana? What does it help you with? What about CBD? Do you find that it makes things worse or better for you? Let’s start a conversation. I’m all ears.


Citations and Interesting Articles:

Marijuana and Mental Health

The Link Between Marijuana Addiction and Mental Illness in Washington State



Categories: Addiction, Anxiety, bipolar disorder, Depression, Homeopathic Remedies, Mania, Mental Health, OCD, Planting, PTSD, Self Esteem, self-care, Writing

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5 replies

  1. Oddly enough, I am a strong advocate for marijuana and yet, I still agree 100% with your opinion of it as a mental illness medication. Plain and simple, it isn’t. For me, it combats my lifelong chronic insomnia and allows me a good night’s sleep — and while adequate sleep is key to mental wellness, this is just a tangential relation. For depression? No way. Depressive episodes are frequently accompanied by a lack of motivation and cannabis will only make this worse. Anxiety? As you said, for some people, it actually increases feelings of panic, paranoia and anxiety. I’m also a recovering alcoholic and because of that, I have to confine my use of pot to just before bed — in other words, not to chase a high, but just to get some sleep. So I actually think that your opinion just so happens to align with all the facts. Good post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for commenting. I love good feedback vs. just people arguing. I find the whole conversation interesting and I love hearing how it affects different people different ways. It is definitely something that needs further research and congratulations on remaining strong and continuing on your path of sobriety, I know how difficult that can be, especially with mental illness.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree that it is self medicating but if it is medical prescribed, then it is just medicating. If it makes a person feel better, it doesn’t matter if it is self-medicating or prescribed. It doesn’t help everyone, and different strains treat different conditions.

    All that means very little if it is illegal or costs money to get a card, or if people have a card but can’t afford to buy product from a shop. They are still going through street pharmicists and getting arrested for weed that has been medically proven to help some people feel better and it technically no longer illegal.

    Getting arrested, detained, and turned through system makes mental health issues worse. Doing time produces a very particular set of conditions called PICS.


  3. Your post raises some excellent points. I would also mention the lack of regulation in taking marijuana. Who knows what it added to it and thus this makes anecdotal evidence less quantifiable.


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