Medical or recreational substances always have effects on our bodies. Some of these we aim for and are incredibly useful, for example opioids used in hospitals are very effective forms of pain relief, and they make procedures and treatment a lot easier and a lot safer for both patients and staff.
This is even true with alcohol, as it can be a good sterilizing substance and can help people relax.
However, these effects are not always warranted or welcome. Those same opioids we mentioned earlier can also be highly addictive and dangerous, and alcohol can damage the body and mind over time.
With this being the case, it is important to know the side effects of even the most mundane drug, so you can determine whether the benefits outweigh the negatives.
So, where does weed fit in? People often discuss the effects of this substance and one of the things that comes up is whether or not it is a depressant? Does weed cause depressive states of mind? In this article, we seek to answer this question and inform you of the effects of weed.
Common Effects Of Marijuana
Before we delve into the depression-inducing effects of weed, let’s take a look at some of its more common effects.
One of the first things that come to mind when thinking about marijuana is how it makes us feel high. It produces euphoric effects that give us an overall sense of well-being and happiness.
Not only can it relieve stress and anxiety, but it can also improve your mood significantly. It has been shown to increase feelings of pleasure and satisfaction.
This is because THC (the active ingredient) acts upon the brain’s endocannabinoid system, which is responsible for producing cannabinoids.
The endocannabinoid system helps regulate processes such as memory formation, appetite, sleep cycles, immune function, and sensory perception. When this system is activated by THC, it creates an antianxiety effect.
Due to this, cannabis has become part of studies to see whether it can be an effective treatment for people with mental health problems. However, weed also produces significant physical effects on the consumer.
Cannabis is very good at getting rid of nausea, reduces pain, and it can help to relax muscles, producing a sedative-like effect.
This is enjoyable for recreational users, but is a boon for those who suffer from serious medical conditions, such as cancer or arthritis.
Is Weed A Depressant?
Now that we have looked at the effects of weed, we want to turn our attention to whether or not weed is a depressant. So, what exactly is a depressant?
A depressant is essentially any agent that reduces the level of activity in the central nervous system. This usually occurs by binding to receptors in the brain that normally respond to other stimulants.
While weed is not known to act directly on the dopamine system, there is evidence that it interacts with the opioid receptor system, which is linked to reward pathways in the brain. This means that although weed may produce many positive effects, it can also trigger negative ones.
Depressants are generally considered anything that causes drowsiness or lethargy. They tend to make people tired, sluggish, and lack motivation.
Most commonly found in prescription drugs, they are used for treating symptoms of depression, including insomnia, restlessness, agitation, and fatigue.
The Effects Of Weed And Depressive States
With all of this information in mind, it is now clear why weed can cause a depressive state in a person. We will now examine each of these factors individually to provide you with a better understanding of the mechanism behind the connection between weed and depression.
First off, we need to understand that the endocannabinoid system plays a key role in regulating the release of neurotransmitters.
These include serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Serotonin is involved with mood regulation, while norepinephrine is associated with arousal and wakefulness.
Dopamine is associated with both pleasure and reward. If this system is disrupted, then these chemicals cannot properly interact with one another. As a result, we can see some of the effects of weed on the body:
A decrease in dopamine levels leads to a decrease in energy and motivation. This is seen in chronic use of cannabis.
Dopamine affects the mesolimbic pathway, which is connected to the amygdala, which is responsible for emotional responses. Because of this, weed might impact emotions.
Serotonin is important for maintaining mood stability. In fact, if its levels drop too low, then we start to feel depressed. Norepinephrine and dopamine seem to play a similar role.
If the endocannabinoid receptor system is overstimulated, then neurotransmitters will increase their production, causing increased anxiety and panic attacks.
In addition, weed activates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), which is responsible for releasing cortisol into the bloodstream when we encounter stressors.
Cortisol helps us deal with stress, but too much of it can lead to feelings of anxiety and paranoia. Therefore, because weed stimulates the HPA, it increases your chances of experiencing an anxiety attack.
As mentioned previously, cannabinoids bind to cannabinoid receptors throughout the body. It is estimated that there are more than 60 different types of receptors, so we know that it is likely that there are multiple ways in which weed can impact our mental health.
How To Avoid The Negative Effects Of Weed
Although weed has many benefits, it’s also possible to experience negative side effects from it. So how do we keep ourselves safe? Here are some tips to help us stay healthy.
Start small! Try smoking less marijuana than you would normally. There is no reason to be using as high a dose as you want to be, especially since it will only make things worse.
The same goes for edibles. Don’t eat more than you have room for, since eating too much could lead to stomach aches, nausea, vomiting, and other unpleasant side effects.
Don’t take any risks! If you don’t feel well after taking your first hit, stop immediately. Although it is tempting to smoke again, it may not be worth the risk.
You may have already experienced something like this before, or you may simply be getting sicker due to the combination of THC and the other ingredients found in marijuana.
While weed can cause negative effects and over time can be damaging to the body if you take too much, the risks are fairly minor compared to a lot of other drugs and substances.
As such, if you use weed, either for medical or recreational purposes, and you feel you’ve gone overboard, stop. Treat it like alcohol, where once you’ve hit a certain threshold of being too drunk, you should stop drinking, the same applies for weed.
While weed is not as powerful as other depressive drugs, it is a depressant and can still cause depressive states. Therefore, it is worth only taking what your body can handle, in both the recreational and medicinal sense, and only consume it in moderation, as you would any other substance, be it food, alcohol, drinks, or medicinal drugs.