It isn’t only physical pain which cannabis treats, scientists are discovering. Emotional pain, too, is helped by the use of marijuana. A study at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Santa Monica found that while a significant percentage of self-reported cannabis users had current depression,
After adjusting carefully for baseline differences between adults who subsequently use marijuana and those who abstain, the significant associations that are initially present between ongoing marijuana use and depression are substantially reduced, if not eliminated.
Translated into plain English, cannabis does not cause depression, but depressed people may be more likely to use cannabis. That is because cannabis helps people who are depressed to overcome their challenges and become mentally happier and healthier. Another study published last year in the journal Addictive Behaviors concluded,
Despite comparable ranges of scores on all depression subscales, those [respondents] who used cannabis once per week or less had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic (physical) complaints than non-users.
Daily users [also] reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users.
This is good news and is important for doctors to know. Patients with depression who are currently taking SSRI or other prescription medication for their condition should not discontinue without medical supervision, due to the risk of relapse and severe withdrawal. But I would suggest talking to your doctor about medical cannabis if you are in a part of the country where it can be recommended, and be willing to find another medical opinion if you are unsatisfied with your present care.