Cannabis can make a good natural antidepressant that many already use both to try improving their mood. It has many notable effects on the mental state and there is definitely great potential to help those in need. Many use it for its powerful stress relieving properties. It is also known to be a safe substance to use.
Despite its prevalence in many countries around the world, only a handful have legalised the drug for recreational use.
However, is it still just as safe for those with a diagnosis and prescription for a doctor for a mental condition? Some question the safety of using cannabis while taking antidepressants.
This topic is vital because, although cannabis is a natural product that has very few contraindications, cannabinoids do still interact with other substances in the body. It is therefore important to highlight any interactions or problems that may result from cannabis use.
Some things to keep in mind
When compared to other fields of study, there aren’t that many rigorous and in-depth studies on the subject. However, there are a few interesting reviews that have enough evidence to provide a general overview. The current scientific consensus comes from these studies.
Firstly, reports of adverse events resulting from interactions between antidepressants and cannabis are rare, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care. It is important to remember that cannabis smoking is still illegal the majority of countries despite the drug being more accepted. This means that there are likely people who have had negative experiences but have intentionally withheld them.
High levels of THC correlate to a larger number of cases. CBD is generally safer and causes fewer issues when used alongside prescription medications.
You should also consider the type of condition being treated. Patients with severe depression and bipolar disorder are at greatest risk. Many scholars believe that they should reduce their cannabis use, regardless of whether they take medication or not.
There are many antidepressants available on the market, each with a different mechanism. It is important to not lump them all together and to focus on individual cases.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, or just SSRIs, are the most common type of antidepressant that is prescribed to patients. The group includes many commonly prescribed antidepressant drugs like Prozac, Zoloft, and Lexapro. Concomitant administrations of therapeutic cannabis and these drugs have been reported in many cases. However, if medical supervision is maintained and regular dosages are administered, the risk of interaction with the drugs is low.
The reason doctors prefer to prescribe SSRIs to patients other the alternatives is that they cause fewer and less serious side effects. In addition, reports of interactions with other drugs are rarer and milder with SSRIs than other alternatives.
NDRIs and SNRIs
There have been very few reports of adverse reactions to NDRIs (Noradrenaline and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibiters). These drugs are also used widely for treatment of depression and cognitive problems. There is a low to moderate risk of cannabis interaction with Bupropion or Methylphenidate (Ritalin).
Serotonin and Norepinephrine reuptake inhibiters, SNRIs are antidepressants that are also generally safe to be used in combination with cannabis. These drugs are used to treat major depression, anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), ADHD, fibromyalgia, and many other conditions. Venlafaxine and Duloxetine are SNRIs that have low side effects and are not subject to drug interactions.
MAOIs Tricyclic antidepressants
The antidepressants we have covered so far are generally considered to be safe and cannabis friendly. But what about the antidepressants
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, an antidepressant drug that is sometimes considered “old-fashioned”. They are not typically the first medication that a doctor will prescribe. They are used in the treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders; however, they pose many problems regarding interactions. It is not strongly recommended that you take cannabis alongside them. In fact, there are several food items that you should not eat while you are taking this type of medication.
Tricyclic antidepressants, such as trimipramine and amitriptyline have also been reported to interact with cannabinoids. These drugs are not as common as they once were. There have been reports that cannabis has been linked to anxiety and tachycardia.
Medicinal and recreational use
Regardless of what medication you are taking, antidepressant or not, you should always be cautious while consuming other substances. This includes alcohol, other the counter medication, cannabis and other recreational drugs.
Your doctor should inform you of anything that you should avoid while taking medication prescribed to you. However, depending on country, they often neglect recreational substances. Always do a little additional research to check that what you are doing is safe. Even if it is deemed safe, it does not hurt to exercise a little extra caution when you take new medication, and it may just save your life.