Several astounding findings have been published in a study conducted by the Washington State University’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Program that may change the ways we view depression and anxiety therapy.
“Existing research on the effects of cannabis on depression, anxiety and stress are very rare and have almost exclusively been done with orally administered THC pills in a laboratory,” said Cuttler, author of the study.
One of the many findings was that women deal better with depression by medicating with cannabis when compared to men.
Across both genders, self-reported symptoms of depression were reduced by approximately 50%, while symptoms of anxiety and stress were reduced by approximately 58%.
Analyses revealed that depression symptom ratings were reduced in 89.3% of tracked sessions, they were exacerbated in 3.2% of sessions, and there was no change in 7.5% of sessions.
As for anxiety, it was reduced in 93.5% of tracked sessions, they were exacerbated in 2.1% of sessions, and there was no change in symptoms for 4.4% of sessions.
Lastly, stress levels in patients have also improved (lowered) in 93.3% of tracked sessions, it increased in 2.7% of sessions, and there was no change in reported levels of stress for 4% of sessions.
When it comes to gender differences, cannabis has a similar effect on men and women, however, it seems that women may reap more benefits.
Even though there are many things that might influence the results women got, such as smaller body weight and lower cannabis thresholds, the results speak for themselves.
Here we see that the levels of all three drop a bit lower for women than those in men, however, the fact that cannabis lowers depression, anxiety, and stress levels stays true across the board.
By looking into the numbers we can see that women perceived a greater reduction in symptoms of anxiety than men did.
Levels of THC and CBD matter
When it comes down to which strain is the best for dealing with depression or anxiety, everyone has a pick of their own as everybody knows themselves best.
Models were also tested to examine whether the cannabinoid contents (% THC, % CBD) could produce a change in reported symptom severity.
The greatest reduction in ratings of depression was reported after using cannabis with relatively low levels of THC and relatively high levels of CBD.
Researchers also pointed out that medical cannabis users’ beliefs regarding the therapeutic efficacy of THC and/or CBD-rich strains could have contributed to a potential expectancy effect.
“A lot of consumers seem to be under the false assumption that more THC is always better,” Cuttler said. “Our study shows that CBD is also a very important ingredient in cannabis and may augment some of the positive effects of THC.”
The results also indicate the presence of a positive, linear, relationship between dose and perceived changes in stress.
Lastly, researchers say that the results from this study are consistent with the reported anxiolytic, stress-alleviating effects of cannabis, and suggest that users experience significant and substantial reductions in symptoms of negative affect following cannabis use.
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