Neuroscientists at the University of Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions found that endocannabinoids, which are chemical compounds in the brain that active THC receptors, may help treat depression that has resulted from chronic stress.
While studying rats, researchers found that chronic stress reduced the production of endocannabinoids, which affect our cognition, emotion and behavior, and have been linked to reduced feelings of pain and anxiety, increases in appetite and overall feelings of well-being. This reduction of endocannabinoids showed to be a risk factor for developing depression.
“Using compounds derived from cannabis — marijuana — to restore normal endocannabinoid function could potentially help stabilize moods and ease depression,” lead researcher Dr. Samir Haj-Dahmane said in a university press release.
Additional research about the impact of marijuana on PTSD further bolstered the neuroscientists’ findings. A study published last year in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology showed that cannabinoids triggered changes in the brain that prevented the behavioral and psychological symptoms of PTSD.
Unfortunately, it’s a two way street with depression and marijuana. Some research has shown heavy marijuana smokers to be at a higher risk for the development of depression. More studies are needed to corroborate this finding.