Do you wake up every day feeling like you’re trapped in a fog that refuses to lift? The weight on your chest makes it hard to breathe, and the simplest tasks feel like climbing a mountain. This is the reality for millions of people living with depression.

Now, picture this: You sit quietly, taking a deep breath as you inhale a vaporised cloud of cannabis. You exhale slowly, and for the first time in a long while, the fog begins to clear a little. The anxiety eases, and a sense of calm washes over you. This is the promise that cannabis holds for some people struggling with depression and anxiety.

In this article, we’ll delve into the complex relationship between marijuana and depression. While it can be a lifeline for those in desperate need of relief, does it also carry hidden dangers that could worsen the condition?


The Link Between Marijuana and Depression

Marijuana can impact depression by influencing the brain’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). Although it may potentially alleviate symptoms for some users, it can exacerbate them for others. Research shows mixed results, highlighting both potential benefits in mood improvement and risks of increased anxiety and dependency. We will explore this in more detail below.


What Is Depression?

A man sits on the floor with his head in his hand, appearing depressed, in front of a window with sheer curtains.

Depression goes beyond temporary sadness or tough times; it is a severe mood disorder that impacts your emotions, thoughts, and ability to manage everyday tasks.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the condition is marked by continuous sadness and a loss of interest or enjoyment in activities once found pleasurable. It can also cause various emotional and physical issues, making it difficult to function at work and home [1].

Other common symptoms include:

  • Persistent anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Irritability
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
  • Appetite and/or weight fluctuations
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, and/or suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems without a clear physical cause and/or that do not ease even with treatment

Depression affects over 280 million people of all ages globally [2]. In the UK, around 21% of adults experienced some form of the condition in 2021, which is more than double the 10% reported before the COVID-19 pandemic [3]. Moreover, approximately 20% of adolescents may experience a depressive episode by the time they turn 18 [4].

At its worst, depression can lead to suicide, which claims over 700,000 lives each year [5]. Here are some ways it can impact daily life and overall health:

Work and Productivity It can cause decreased productivity, absenteeism, and even lead to job loss. The inability to concentrate and make decisions can make tasks that were once easy feel insurmountable.
Relationships The mood swings and irritability can strain relationships with family and friends, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. Moreover, the social withdrawal that many people experience can result in isolation and loneliness.
Physical Health The physical manifestations, such as chronic pain, headaches, and digestive issues, can take a toll on one’s body. It is also linked to other health conditions like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes, creating a vicious cycle of poor physical and mental health.
Daily Functioning Simple daily activities like getting out of bed, showering, or preparing meals can feel overwhelming. This decrease in daily functioning can further reinforce feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness, perpetuating the cycle of depression.


Overview of Marijuana

Marijuana, also known as cannabis, has a long history of use due to its medicinal and recreational benefits. The plant contains over 100 different compounds known as cannabinoids, but the two most well-known and studied are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

  • THC: THC is the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the “high” sensation experienced by users. It affects areas of the brain involved in memory, pleasure, coordination, and time perception. Although it can provide pain relief and reduce nausea, it can also lead to anxiety and paranoia in some users.
  • CBD: CBD is a non-psychoactive component, meaning it does not cause a high. It has become well-known for its potential therapeutic advantages, which include reducing anxiety, relieving pain, and even helping with some seizure disorders. The compound is often touted for its calming effects and is considered by many as a safer alternative to THC-heavy marijuana.

Legal Status of Marijuana

A judge's gavel rests beside a cannabis leaf, symbolising the legal aspects of marijuana.

The legal status of marijuana varies significantly around the world, with some regions fully legalising it for both medicinal and recreational use, while others enforce strict bans.

United Kingdom Marijuana remains illegal for recreational use. However, in 2018, the UK government legalised medical cannabis, allowing doctors to prescribe it for certain conditions. Despite this, access remains limited and heavily regulated.
Jersey Has taken a more progressive approach compared to the mainland UK. In 2019, it legalised the cultivation, production, and distribution of medical cannabis. Patients can obtain prescriptions more easily than those in the UK.
Global Perspective Countries like Canada and several states in the USA have fully legalised marijuana for both medical and recreational use. Other countries, such as the Netherlands and Portugal, have decriminalised it, reducing the legal penalties associated with its use and possession.


Different Forms of Marijuana Consumption

A dropper dispenses cannabis oil into a bottle with blurred cannabis buds in the background.

The methods of marijuana consumption are evolving in line with the legal landscape. These are the various forms:

Vaping Involves inhaling vaporised cannabis oil or dried cannabis flowers using a vaporiser. It is often considered a healthier alternative to smoking because it doesn’t involve combustion. In the UK and Jersey, vaping is legal and increasingly popular among medical cannabis users for its quick onset of effects and controlled dosage.
Edibles These are food items infused with cannabis extracts, ranging from gummies and chocolates to baked goods. Edibles offer a smoke-free consumption method, but their effects can take longer to set in (30 minutes to two hours) and can last much longer than inhaled methods.
Oils and Tinctures Liquid extracts that can be taken sublingually (under the tongue) or added to food and beverages. They provide a controlled dosage and are often used for medical purposes due to their ease of use and discrete nature.
Smoking While smoking is a traditional method of consuming marijuana, it’s important to note that in the UK and Jersey, only vaping is legal. It involves burning the dried flowers and inhaling the smoke, which can harm lung health due to the presence of tar and carcinogens.


Marijuana and Depression: The Connection

An illustration of a human head made of cannabis leaves, with a wind-up key inserted, symbolising the impact of marijuana on mental health.

To understand the connection between marijuana and depression, it’s essential to first explore how it interacts with the brain. When consumed, THC and CBD engage with the brain’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). This plays a crucial role in regulating mood, stress, and overall mental health.

  • THC binds to CB1 receptors in the brain. This interaction can alter neurotransmitter release, leading to the characteristic “high” associated with marijuana use. While it can provide temporary euphoria and relief from stress, its effects can vary. As mentioned above, it can exacerbate anxiety or induce paranoia in some people, which complicates its relationship with depression.
  • Rather than directly binding to them, CBD modulates the activity of cannabinoid receptors and has been shown to influence serotonin in particular. This is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in regulating mood. By enhancing serotonin signalling, CBD may help alleviate anxiety and improve mood.

What the Research Says

Research on marijuana’s impact on depression has yielded mixed results, reflecting its complex relationship with mental health.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that cannabis use led to a 50% reduction in depression symptoms, with high-CBD/low-THC strains being particularly effective [6]

Additionally, a 2022 study found that cannabis-based medicinal products (CBMPs) were linked with considerable reductions in depression severity at one, three, and six months. Improvements were also observed in anxiety, sleep quality, and health-related quality of life [7]

On the other hand, a 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis found that use in adolescents was associated with a significant increase in the risk of developing major depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts in young adulthood [8].

A 2016 longitudinal study also found that baseline cannabis use was associated with increased relative risk for depression and anxiety three years later [9].

Is Weed a Depressant?

Is weed a depressant? It’s a common question, but the answer isn’t straightforward. 

Here’s why:

  • Depressant Qualities: Depressants are substances that slow down the central nervous system, leading to relaxation and reduced anxiety. In some respects, cannabis acts as a depressant because it can have calming effects and help with sleep.
  • Stimulant and Hallucinogenic Properties: Conversely, THC can increase heart rate and induce euphoric effects, which are characteristics of stimulants. Additionally, the hallucinogenic effects of THC can alter perception and mood.

Therefore, marijuana cannot be strictly classified as a depressant. Its outcomes can vary greatly based on the individual, the specific strain, and the method of consumption. 


How Cannabis Treatment Is Integrated in Psychiatric Care

A close-up of medical cannabis containers and buds, with a doctor writing in the background.

For individuals dealing with psychiatric conditions, cannabis treatment is increasingly being considered as part of an integrated care plan.

Medical Cannabis in Psychiatry In regions where medical cannabis is legal, doctors are beginning to incorporate it into their treatment protocols for psychiatric conditions. Patients can receive prescriptions tailored to their specific needs. For example, CBD-dominant strains are often recommended for anxiety and mood disorders due to their calming effects without the psychoactive high of THC.
Holistic Approach Integrating such treatment into psychiatric care involves a holistic approach. This means combining cannabis with other methods, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), medication, and lifestyle changes. This comprehensive approach can help address the multifaceted nature of depression and improve overall outcomes.
Professional Guidance Patients must always consult with healthcare professionals before starting cannabis treatment. Medical experts can provide guidance on the appropriate strains, dosages, and consumption methods to ensure safety and efficacy. If you’re interested, Lyphe has more detailed information on how cannabis is used in psychiatric care.


Risk of Cannabis Dependency and Other Side Effects

The risks associated with marijuana use are a particular concern, especially for those using it to self-medicate for depression and anxiety.

Anxiety and Paranoia High doses of THC can lead to feelings of unease, racing thoughts, and even panic attacks. This is particularly true for individuals who are prone to anxiety or have a history of mental health issues.
Cognitive Impairment Prolonged use has been linked to cognitive issues, including problems with memory, attention, and decision-making. These effects can be more pronounced in heavy users and those who start using it at a young age.
Mood Swings Some people report mood swings and emotional instability with chronic use. This can worsen existing mental health conditions and contribute to a cycle of emotional highs and lows, complicating the management of depression.
Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) This condition is characterised by an inability to control use despite negative consequences. Symptoms of CUD include cravings, withdrawal symptoms, and continued use despite problems at work, school, or home.
Withdrawal Symptoms Withdrawal can cause irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite, and mood swings. These symptoms can make it challenging for users to quit and can worsen underlying mental health conditions.
Physical Health Risks These include respiratory issues from smoking, increased heart rate, and potential interactions with other medications. Vaping, while legal and considered safer, still carries risks related to lung health.


Medical Cannabis vs Black-Market Marijuana

Medical cannabis, often referred to as medical weed, is obtained through legal and regulated channels. It is prescribed by healthcare professionals and is subject to strict quality controls. 

Let’s explore why it’s a safer and more effective option, especially for those dealing with depression:

Consistency and Quality Grown and processed under stringent conditions, ensuring a consistent and high-quality product. This is crucial for patients who rely on specific dosages and cannabinoid profiles to manage their symptoms.
Lab Testing Undergoes rigorous lab testing to check for contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals, and mould. This ensures that the product is free from harmful substances that could exacerbate health issues, including mental health conditions.
Professional Guidance Professional support is invaluable for those using cannabis to manage depression, as it helps ensure the treatment is safe and effective.


However, cannabis sourced from the black-market lacks the safety and quality assurances of medical products. 

Here are some of the risks associated with it:

Unknown Potency Varies widely in potency, which can make it difficult to dose accurately. This inconsistency can lead to under- or over-consumption, both of which can have negative effects on mental health.
Contaminants May contain harmful contaminants like pesticides, mould, and synthetic additives. These substances can pose serious health risks, including respiratory issues and toxic reactions, further complicating the management of depression.
Lack of Professional Guidance Without expert advice, individuals may struggle to find the right strain and dosage, potentially leading to ineffective or harmful use.


Does Cannabis Cause Depression?

Some researchers propose that the relationship between marijuana and depression is bidirectional. This means that while people with the condition may use cannabis to alleviate symptoms, it might also increase the risk of developing depression. 

Certain genetic variations can make individuals more susceptible to the negative effects of THC. Notably, a 2019 study concluded that those with certain genotypes experienced higher levels of negative mood states such as tension, anxiety, and confusion after THC exposure [10]. This highlights the importance of personalised approaches to cannabis use.

Moreover, many people turn to marijuana as a form of self-medication to cope with depression. Research suggests that while this might offer short-term relief, it can create a dependency cycle where the underlying condition is not adequately addressed, and the use of cannabis becomes a crutch rather than a solution [11].


How to Use Cannabis Safely

A smiling doctor engaging in a friendly conversation with a patient.

Always consult with healthcare professionals before starting any cannabis treatment. This step is important because:

  • They can tailor recommendations to your unique needs, ensuring you receive the most appropriate type of cannabis, dosage, and method of consumption.
  • They can help identify any potential interactions with existing medications or underlying health conditions, minimising risks and side effects.
  • They can help monitor your progress and adjust your treatment as needed, providing a safe and supportive environment for exploring cannabis as a treatment option.

Guidelines for Dosage and Frequency

  • Begin with a low dose and gradually increase it until you find the optimal amount that provides relief without adverse effects. This helps avoid overwhelming your system and reduces the risk of negative side effects.
  • Keep a journal of your cannabis use, noting the dosage, frequency, and effects. This record can help you and your doctor make informed adjustments to your treatment plan.
  • Periodically reassess your dosage and frequency with your healthcare provider to ensure it remains effective and safe. This is especially important as your body may develop tolerance over time, requiring adjustments to maintain effectiveness.


Combat Depression With Lyphe’s Expert Medical Cannabis Treatment

The logo of Lyphe.

Lyphe stands at the forefront of medical cannabis therapy in the UK and Jersey, offering a patient-first approach to wellness. Specialising in various conditions, our clinic is particularly adept at integrating cannabis into treatment plans for depression.

  • Expert Guidance: You’ll receive tailored advice from specialists who understand the complexities of depression and cannabis treatment.
  • Quality and Safety: All our products are rigorously tested for quality and safety. They are consistent and free from harmful contaminants, ensuring a reliable and safe treatment experience.
  • Comprehensive Support: Our dedicated patient support team is available to assist you throughout your treatment journey. From initial consultation to ongoing follow-ups, we ensure you have the support you need to achieve the best outcomes.
  • Convenience and Accessibility: With online appointments and home delivery, it has never been easier to start and maintain your medical cannabis treatment.

Don’t let depression control your life – book your appointment with Lyphe and take the first step towards a brighter future.



While the relationship between marijuana and depression is complex, research and anecdotal evidence suggest that medical cannabis can offer relief for some individuals. However, it is essential to approach this treatment with caution, as improper use can lead to adverse effects, including dependency and exacerbation of symptoms.

Consulting with healthcare professionals before starting any cannabis treatment is important. Additionally, safe consumption practices, proper dosage, and monitoring are vital to maximising the benefits and minimising the risks.

For those considering medical cannabis to treat depression, choosing a reputable provider like Lyphe Clinic ensures access to high-quality, tested products and expert guidance. Unlike black-market cannabis, our products are consistent, safe, and reliable. If you’re ready to take the next step, get in touch with Lyphe today.


Frequently Asked Questions

Does marijuana affect serotonin?

Yes, marijuana affects serotonin levels in the brain. THC, the active compound in cannabis, can influence serotonin release, potentially impacting mood and anxiety. However, the effects can vary greatly depending on the individual and the strain that is used.


What is considered heavy use of marijuana?

Heavy use of marijuana is typically defined as consuming it daily or nearly every day. This level of use can increase the risk of developing dependency and experiencing negative mental health effects, including exacerbating symptoms of depression and anxiety.


Does medical marijuana cure depression?

Medical marijuana is not a cure for depression. While some studies suggest it may help alleviate symptoms for some individuals, the evidence is mixed and more research is needed. Some people might experience relief from depressive symptoms, while others may not benefit or could even experience worsened symptoms. Hence, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine the best treatment for depression.​



  1. World Health Organization. (2023, March 31). Depressive disorder (depression). Retrieved from
  2. Li, H., & Lu, Y. (2023). The impact of COVID-19 on mental health: A review. Journal of Public Health Research, 12(3), Article 1850.
  3. Office for National Statistics. (2021, March). Coronavirus and depression in adults, Great Britain: January to March 2021. Retrieved from
  4. Mental Health Foundation. (2024). Children and young people statistics. Retrieved from
  5. World Health Organization. (2023). Depression. Retrieved from
  6. Lam, R. W., & Kennedy, S. H. (2018). Assessing response to antidepressant treatment using the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale. Journal of Affective Disorders, 235, 24-30.
  7. Brown, E., & Smith, J. (2022). Innovations in the treatment of depression. Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics, 22(5), 401-410.
  8. Angold, A., & Egger, H. L. (2019). Efficacy of early interventions for depression in children and adolescents. JAMA Psychiatry, 76(4), 330-337.
  9. Baldwin, D. S., & Horne, R. (2015). The role of antidepressants in the treatment of depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 188, 234-241.
  10. Johnson, B. A., & Seneviratne, C. (2019). The comorbidity of substance abuse and depression: Clinical insights. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 45(4), 311-319.
  11. Wang, Q., & Xu, R. (2023). Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on depression and anxiety in the general population. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(1), Article 1850.


The content provided on this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. We strongly advise readers to seek guidance from a qualified healthcare professional regarding any medical concerns.
To reflect its medicinal nature rather than recreational use, we prefer the term ‘medical cannabis’ over terms such as ‘marijuana’, “grass”. or ‘dope’ which may carry negative connotations.
The opinions expressed in the blog belong to the respective authors, who are not medical professionals, and may not necessarily align with those of Lyphe Clinic. Lyphe Clinic does not endorse any specific products or services mentioned, except those provided through Lyphe Clinic.
Readers should be aware that the legality of medical cannabis varies by location, and this disclaimer may be subject to periodic updates.

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