Weed and Depression

Weed and Depression

Authored by Pin Ng PhD

Edited by Hugh Soames

Reviewed by Michael Por, MD

Weed and Depression

Most people who consume marijuana do so for its mood-altering abilities. Pot gives people a high and allows them to relax. However, heavy consumption of marijuana can cause unwanted results. It can increase the anxiety and depression a person experiences. Research has found that anxiety is one of the leading symptoms created by marijuana in users1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6702282/.

Individuals feeling depressed and anxious may be prescribe an antidepressant medication. There are some antidepressant users who also consume weed. These individuals may not realize that there are side effects and consequences to consuming both marijuana and prescription antidepressants.

Marijuana and Depression

Since the 1980s, researchers have completed trials on the effects of THC and CBD on depression and anxiety. For the most part, the results of marijuana’s effectiveness to help people deal with depression and anxiety have been positive. However, the sample size of the trials has been small.

While the research on weed and depression and anxiety is positive, studies on weed and antidepressants is almost nil. There is still little that researchers know about the side effects of mixing marijuana and antidepressants have on a person2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588070/. The reason for so little information on the side effects of the two is mostly down to marijuana being illegal in most places – although a number of states in the United States have legalized the drug.

Self-medicating weed and depression

A lot of people suffer from depression. How many? According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), in any given year, it is estimated that nearly 16 million adults experience depression. Unfortunately, that number is likely to be wrong due to under reporting. Many people do not report suffering from depression because they do not want to be looked at as suffering from a mental illness. The stigmas around mental health continue and people do not want to be labeled as depressed.

Due to the cost of treatment in the US, many people self-medicate with marijuana. It isn’t just the cost of treatment for depression that turn people onto marijuana, however. Many people use it to feel “high” and get themselves out of the doldrums of depression.

Some people may feel good and less depressed after smoking or consuming pot. However, not everyone will feel better with weed and depression. The results can be based on the individual. One of the aspects that can make a person’s anxiety and depression worse is the strength and strain of the weed. Users should know the strength of the weed as the stronger it is, the worse they may feel.

Potential side effects from mixing drugs and weed

Anyone mixing drugs and weed is likely to experience side effects. This happens with all medications whether weed or alcohol is mixed with them. Side effects can be harmful when mixing drugs and weed. Although antidepressants are a mood booster and mixing marijuana with them would seemingly improve a person’s mood even more, this is not the case.

Doctors are likely to refuse a patient an antidepressant prescription if the individual is a marijuana smoker. That could be due to the lack of studies and research completed on the mixing of medical drugs and marijuana.

Heavy, long-term weed use is harmful for people. It alters the brain’s functions and structure. In the long run, a person can become even more depressed. There is a belief that marijuana is all-natural and not harmful to a person’s health. This is not true and weed can cause health issues the more a person consumes it.

How does marijuana effect a medicine’s potency?

The way in which the body absorbs and processes an antidepressant may be affected by weed. Therefore, the potency of the depression medication may be less effective. Marijuana inhibits the metabolization of antidepressant drugs. Not having the right potency of antidepressants, a person may either have a delay in the relief of depression or symptoms increasing.

A person seeking antidepressant medication that uses weed should speak to their doctor. It is important the doctor knows about a patient’s weed use, so they can prescribe the right medication and strength. It is important for the doctor to know about their patient’s marijuana use. Weed is being legalized around the US, so doctors should be open to speaking about a patient’s use of it.

Quitting marijuana to take antidepressants

Medical professionals say an individual prescribed antidepressants should not stop using marijuana cold turkey. Heavy pot users should especially avoid going cold turkey. The side effects of withdrawal from weed will add to the depression. A person will experience anxiety, irritability, loss of sleep, change of appetite, and depression by quitting weed cold turkey and starting antidepressants.

A person beginning to use antidepressants should cut back on weed slowly. While reducing the amount of weed use, combine it with mindfulness techniques and/or yoga. Experts stress that non-medication can greatly improve a person’s mood.

Weed’s impact on Depression

Weed can be placed in three different drug categories:


  • depressant
  • stimulant
  • Hallucinogen


Marijuana affects a person in various ways. Different types of marijuana produce different side effects. Side effects may include:


  • loss of motor skills
  • poor or lack of coordination
  • lowered blood pressure
  • short-term memory loss


Although weed may seem like a depressant, it can be a stimulant for some people who use it. Some users may experience:


  • increased heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • anxiety
  • paranoia
  • increased energy
  • increased motivation


Marijuana can also produce hallucinations in users. This makes the drug a hallucinogenic for some users. Weed creates different side effects in different people, making it a very potent drug. Now, mixing mental health drugs with weed can cause even more unwanted side effects.


Weed and Depression

Long-term weed use can make depression and anxiety worse. In addition, using marijuana can prevent prescribed antidepressants from working to their full potential. Stopping marijuana use cold turkey when beginning antidepressants can add to a person’s issues.

Weed consumption should be reduced gradually to get the most out of antidepressants. Marijuana is a drug and it is harmful to individual’s long-term health. Weed has many side effects and the consequences are different to each person who uses it.

References: Weed and Depression

  1. Aiken LS, West SG. Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications; 1991. []
  2. Beck AT, Steer RA, Garbin MG. Psychometric properties of the Beck Depression Inventory: Twenty-five years later. Clinical Psychology Review. 1988;8:77–100. []
  3. Carey KB, Neal DJ, Collins SE. A psychometric analysis of the self-regulation questionnaire. Addictive Behaviors. 2004;29:253–260. [PubMed] []
  4. Farmer A, Mahmood A, Redman K, Harris T, Sadler S, McGuffin P. A sib-pair study of the Temperament and Character Inventory scales in major depression. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2003;60(5):490–496. [PubMed] []
  5. Jiang N, Sato T, Hara T, Takedomi Y, Ozaki I, Yamada S. Correlations between trait anxiety, personality and fatigue: Study based on the Temperament and Character Inventory. Journal of Psychosomatic Research. 2003;55(6):493–500. [PubMed] []
  6. Kessler RC, Zhao S, Blazer DG, Swartz M. Prevalence, correlates, and course of minor depression and major depression in the National Comorbidity Survey. Journal of Affective Disorders. 1997;45(1–2):19–30. [PubMed] []
  7. Shankman SA, Lewinsohn PM, Klein DN, Small JW, Seeley JR, Altman SE. Subthreshold conditions as precursors for full syndrome disorders: A 15-year longitudinal study of multiple diagnostic classes. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 2009;50:1485–1494. []
  8. Sobell LC, Sobell MB. Timeline Follow-back: A technique for assessing self-reported ethanol consumption. In: Allen J, Litten RZ, editors. Measuring Alcohol Consumption: Psychosocial and Biological Methods. Totowa, NJ: Humana Press; 1992. pp. 41–72. []
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