Cannabis and mental health. These are two topics that many people would not think overlap. But they do. And they should.
Mental illnesses are genuine mental conditions that affect a person’s emotions, thinking, behaviour and/or functioning. They are far more common than people believe; however, due to the stigmas attached to mental illness in many cultures around the world, these are often left undiagnosed or mistreated.
Mental illness directly affects around 20% of all people . That is to say that at least 1.5 billion people worldwide suffer from mental illness. Serious mental illness, affecting 4% of the total world population, is severe enough to also affect the friends and family of the sufferer. This pushes the number up to almost 3 billion people who are, in some way, affected by such condition whether they know it or not. This number indicates the severity of the problem and highlights why mental illness needs to be taken far more seriously.
There are seven main types of mental illness categorized as :
- Mood disorders
- Anxiety disorders
- Psychotic disorders
- Eating disorders
- Trauma-related disorders
- Substance abuse disorders
- Personality disorders
Each of these categories is further subdivided into around 300 diagnosable mental illnesses, with conditions that fall within each category are treated similarly.
The five most common mental disorders are :
- Eating disorders
- Substance abuse
- Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)
Surprising, isn’t it? And not what you expected.
When people hear the words mental illness, they think of a psychotic murderer in a straitjacket. Once again, we have the media to thank for that distorted image. Mental illness is, in actuality, far more subtle. Depression and anxiety are situations that many of us have dealt with, and still deal with today. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), depression has been labelled as the foremost leading cause of disability worldwide .
Like it or not, mental illness is real and tangible. And it’s right in front of us.
But what does this have to do with cannabis?
Depending on your condition, cannabis can help you manage your symptoms well enough to fully function in everyday life. Of course, cannabis cannot replace what therapy and medications can do, but it can supplement your lifestyle, helping to lessen and manage the effects of your condition more.
Cannabis is one of the most effective ways to deal with depression. Its mood-altering effects and brain-stimulating properties make it one of the best natural methods to fight depression and return to a semblance of your former, more normal self.
The CBD, Cannabidiol, in cannabis boosts body functions which, most importantly, balance hormone levels. This increases dopamine and serotonin, the happiness hormones, that help steady and balance your mood. CBD also increases melatonin production, allowing the user to sleep more deeply and for longer, negating depression-induced insomnia.
While cannabis will not cure your long-term depression outright, it will get you to a place of basic functioning, enabling the user to seek out medical help. In minor cases of depression, it can help the user over that final hurdle and out of the pit of depression.
The calming effects of cannabis have aided in the management of anxiety, be it generalized or specific, since the dark ages. The CBD in cannabis has been known to lower blood pressure and calm the mind by altering the body’s serotonin levels. This, paired with THC, Tetrahydrocannabinol, another compound found in cannabis, causes an open-mindedness that counteracts anxiety allowing the user to feel more relaxed and comfortable in everyday life.
Eating disorders have similar effects on the body to addiction. Thus it has a direct link to deficits in the body’s ECS, Endocannabinoid System. Cannabis, particularly CBD, has been known to balance out these deficits, allowing the sufferer to self-heal. To find out more about how CBD helps the ECS, read my blog post on ‘How does CBD affect your body?’.
Cannabis also stimulates the appetite and helps to manage self-destructive tendencies that accompany many eating disorders. It awakens the taste buds, making food taste better and feel more appetizing, allowing the user to feel more comfortable about eating.
Contrary to popular belief, cannabis is an effective tool for treating and managing substance abuse. It negates the withdrawal symptoms and reduces cravings. Patients treated with cannabis were considerably less likely to relapse as compared to those who used conventional methods.
A combination of CBD and CBN are used to treat substance withdrawal as its healing effects dulls cravings, promotes healing and repairs the damage done by drugs in the body. Its sedative-life effects are calming and reduce violent outbreaks and fits.
Attention Deficit Disorders
Attention Deficit Disorders are caused by the hyperactivity of the brain, leaving the sufferer unable to focus or hold concentration for long periods of time. The calming and mellowing effects of cannabis can help slow this activity, allowing the user to better engage. The brain-boosting functions of cannabis also help to hyper-focus the brain, rather than cause erratic activity.
CBD based products are recommended for ADD and ADHD as it does not contain any of the psychoactive ingredients that pure cannabis has but has all the healing and calming benefits of the plant. It is thus safe to use on young children, adults in the workplace and the elderly.
Cannabis Is Not A Miracle Cure
While cannabis has been called the Miracle Plant, it is by no means the cure to mental illness. For many sufferers, these disorders are a long-term illness that will never go away. Cannabis can be a helpful tool to aid in the management of mental illness but will not get rid of it.
Moreover, cannabis is also no replacement for proper medical treatment. It is most effective when used in conjunction with medical care and therapy. It is an enhancement tool, used to better your lifestyle.
Be sure to consult your medical practitioner before engaging in cannabis use. There are some mental disorders, such as those on the bipolar spectrum, whose use of the substance can cause detrimental circumstances.
As with any article I’ve written, I advise you to start off slow and adjust your dosage as you go. There is no rushing the healing process. Cannabis builds in the system over time. It will be a few weeks before you see any real results, so be patient and take it slow.
May all your day be high ones!
 https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/types-of-mental-illness  https://vantagepointrecovery.com/most-common-mental-health-disorders/  https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers  https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/depression
Evarínya is a dancer, a dreamer, a cynic and a lover of glitter.
She began writing at a young age, creating her own private imaginary worlds to disappear into.
While her pursuit of her engineering degree side tracked her for a while, she has returned to the
world she loves in hopes of sharing her experiences and stories.
She believes in the empowerment of women through non-conventional methods and seeks to
uncover the world of cannabis through experimentation and the scientific method.
In her spare time, she reads avidly, sews and paints. She tutors part-time and blogs weekly. You can
find out more about her by reading her personal blog, Mist in the Mountains.