Can Cannabis Make You Depressed?

Due to varied genetics, age, and preexisting conditions, people often have different reactions to cannabis. Though the core components of cannabis — THC, CBD, and terpenes — usually produce constant and measurable results, there are always variables unique to each person that can produce undesired effects. So, can cannabis make you depressed? The short answer is ‘yes.’ That said, there are some notable conditions that can increase or decrease your chances of feeling depressed after smoking cannabis (or consuming it in another form).

In today’s guide, we will answer a few important questions regarding the relationship between cannabis use and depression. Why do I feel depressed after smoking cannabis? Is it normal that cannabis makes me sad? Finally, what are some steps I can follow to enjoy cannabis and avoid negative side effects?

If you’re feeling depressed, sad, or anxious when using cannabis, this guide will help you learn some potential reasons, as well as some tips for avoiding these effects in the future.

Can cannabis make you depressed? Yes, and here’s why…

There are dozens of different factors that can contribute to the positive or negative effects you experience while using cannabis. If you’re feeling depressed during or after cannabis use, here are a few explanations as to why this might be happening:

Cannabinoid Content

The main reason people experience varying effects when using cannabis is that different cannabinoid content and terpene composition result in dramatically different emotional experiences. For example, if you consume a large amount of cannabis with high THC content (<12.5mg), you could experience temporary depression, anxiety, or paranoia.

The CBD level and terpene composition of your cannabis are also important factors. If you only experience negative effects on occasion, it is most likely the result of a formulation or dosage that is not right for you. Fortunately, you can easily take control of your cannabis composition and dosage by switching to single-use cordials.

Cannabinoid Sensitivity

As previously mentioned, unique factors about you (age, genetics, pre-existing conditions, etc.) could all have an effect on your experience. Some people might have a sensitivity to THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids in cannabis. Since the amount of THC is one of the most important factors when determining your emotional experience, sensitivity to THC is a common culprit.

High doses of THC are known to trigger feelings of anxiety or paranoia, which is surprising because lower doses actually produce a calming effect. Therefore, too much THC is probably the first thing to consider if you’re wondering why you’re feeling depressed after ingesting cannabis. CBD can actually dampen some of the negative effects of THC — even at a higher dose.

If THC makes you depressed, you can find products with higher dosages of CBD to dampen any negative effects. Alternatively, you can use a product that is more balanced, with more CBD and less THC. If you have high THC sensitivity and you suspect this is something that makes you feel paranoid or depressed, you may also want to consider finding a product containing high CBD, PVC, or CBG.

Burning on Tray

User Intent

Intent matters more than most people realize. Even if your product’s formula is right for you, the wrong setting or state of mind could result in disappointing experiences. While many people with depression use cannabis to fight the condition, consuming cannabis in a depressed state could actually worsen your symptoms. In other words, if you are already feeling sad, cannabis might amplify your negative mood.

There are two factors within your control that can greatly reduce the onset of depression symptoms when using cannabis. First, ensure that you’re in an environment in which you feel comfortable. If possible, try to be in a place that makes you feel safe and happy. For example, you may feel safe consuming cannabis at home with a loved one, but you may not feel at peace consuming cannabis with strangers in an unfamiliar space.

Second, try to avoid using cannabis if you’re already feeling depressed. It can be tempting to use cannabis as an “escape,” but this can actually do more harm than good. That said, if you can keep the THC level and dosage at moderate levels, research shows that both THC and CBD can have anti-depressive effects — regardless of your current state of mind.

Does cannabis make you depressed? If so, look for these products…

If you find that cannabis makes you feel depressed, you may not want to abandon cannabis entirely. In fact, there are a number of physical and mental health benefits associated with cannabis use. So, what are some products that can allow you to continue enjoying cannabis without the negative side effects?

First, it’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all product. Everybody reacts a little differently to cannabis, so finding the right product for you will likely require some research and self-discovery. That said, it’s important to know what to look for in a cannabis product.

Generally speaking, you should choose products that list the amounts of cannabinoids and terpenes so that you can have control over your emotional experience. It may require some experimentation, but you can almost certainly find the right ratios and dosages for you. At the end of the day, the composition of your cannabis is the most important factor.

However, the composition is almost irrelevant if you don’t get the dosage right. Even if you choose a low-THC blend, you could end up smoking or vaping it in large quantities, thereby consuming a high level of THC. This, in turn, could bring on or worsen depression symptoms.

Opt for consumption methods that allow you to better control the dosages. Smoking and vaping are by far the worst methods if you want a precise dosage. It’s nearly impossible to get the numbers exactly right with either method. Edibles and tinctures make it easier, but you still have to manage the measurements yourself, which could still result in a bad experience. Thus, single-dose cannabis products are the best way to get the dosage right and not overdo the THC content.

Can cannabis use trigger depression? Mental health effects over time

Up to this point, we’ve largely focused on the short-term effects of cannabis use. In some cases, cannabis use can result in bouts of sadness or depression. However, it’s also important to look at the long-term mental health effects of cannabis consumption.

Research shows that regularly consuming high concentrations of THC comes with an increased risk of developing anxiety, depression, and psychotic illnesses. This is why cannabis composition and dosage are so important. Without the right levels of THC, CBD, and terpenes, you could get caught in a vicious cycle of trying to treat your mental illness with cannabis, but only making it worse.

Holding Calm

Intentionality can also play a major role in whether or not cannabis triggers depression or another mental illness. For example, if you use cannabis to alleviate anxiety and you understand the composition and dosage you need to achieve this goal, you will be far less likely to consume too much and trigger an adverse mental episode. If you don’t know the best levels for you yet, consider microdosing cannabis with low-THC, high-CBD formulas, like our “Calm” cordials.

We are experts in cannabis, but we are not physicians. Therefore, it’s extremely important to seek out professional help if you feel the onset or worsening of depression. While altering your cannabis intake could have a positive effect on your mental state, you should still speak to a doctor before making any major health decisions.

The bottom line

So, can cannabis make you depressed? Yes, it can. However, if you can approach cannabis use with the correct intentionality and control both the composition and dosage, you are far less likely to experience symptoms of depression. As a result, avoiding the onset of new depression symptoms with cannabis is largely within your control. Fortunately, Koan Cordials take out all of the guesswork, making it easy to create and enjoy your cannabis experience — without feeling depressed.

Resources:
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588070/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7324885/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/3182732/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3691841/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332004/
  7. https://www.webmd.com/depression/news/20200910/more-are-turning-to-pot-when-depressed–but-does-it-help-or-harm
  8. https://adai.uw.edu/pubs/pdf/2017mjdepression.pdf
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6293461/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2689518/
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22213786/

Reviewed for scientific accuracy by Skyler Quisenberry.