Treating a Mental Illness with Cannabis - Health | MERRY JANE
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Treating a Mental Illness with Cannabis

Using prescription pills to help treat a mental illness might be making it harder to live with.

by Melanie McKinnon

by Melanie McKinnon

Depression has been following me around since I was a teenager. I was 15 when it first consumed me, and I haven’t been the same since.

For just under a year, I’ve been using cannabis along with my prescribed medications to help control my manic and depressive episodes that fluctuate at random intervals. I use a sativa dominant strain of marijuana when I’m feeling depressed (which lifts me up and helps me think), and an indica dominant strain when I’m feeling manic (which calms me down and helps me focus).

I’ve never had something work as quickly or effectively as cannabis.

When I use cannabis during a manic episode, my rapid and uncontrollable thoughts slow down and I’m able to process them. My body releases the tension it was feeling, and I’m able to prioritize the important things. The mania is curbed and I’m able to better manage my daily, overwhelming responsibilities.

When I’m in the middle of a depressive episode, the right strain of medical marijuana can lift me out of the fog and help me clearly see the things I need to do. I can love and care for my family because I’m not constantly thinking about the pain inside my head. It lets me step outside of myself and enjoy the good fortune I already have.

Cannabis is by no means the only medication I’m using to treat my Type 1 Bipolar Disorder. I use it alongside regular therapy and medication, which is equally important when treating any mental illness. And though it is a helpful tool that helps me manage my anxiety and uncontrollable thoughts, I still make sure I’m eating right, getting plenty of sleep, and getting the down time my body needs in order to maintain a healthy balance, and function well in all areas of my life. It’s all a very tricky balancing act.

There is little research connecting the benefits of medical marijuana in those with mental health disorders, but Jeremy Spiegel MD of Phsycology Today says, “. . . cutting edge medicinal marijuana research suggests a joint a day might keep your psychiatrist away. . .” and after almost a year of my own research, I’m inclined to agree.

An article on The Weed Blog titled, “Top 5 Mental Conditions Treated With Marijuana” lists depression, anxiety, insomnia, migraines, and bipolar disorder as the main mental health disorders that can be treated with cannabis. The article also stated that “. . . medical marijuana can significantly calm the mood swings exhibited by those with Bipolar Disorder.”

For those suffering from the mental health issues listed above, sometimes a little bit of hope goes a long way. When regular medication and therapy aren’t working, medical marijuana is an excellent avenue to explore. It’s a safe and natural way to reduce the overwhelming emotions associated with mental health disorders, and I’d encourage you to research and explore the field before making any hard-and-fast rules about using cannabis.

How has medical marijuana helped you on your mental health journey?


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Melanie McKinnon



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