In this article, we will explore the question, “does cannabis interact with antidepressants?” The answer to this question is a bit complicated, asa quick Google search for "smoking weed on antidepressants" will return a slew of articles with questionable information. Some pages state that weed causes adverse effects when taken with antidepressants, while others claim that the combination of cannabis and antidepressants is beneficial. According to clinician and educator Dr. Jan Roberts (see: cannabis and sex), cannabis could even help some people alleviate adverse sexual side effects from antidepressants. So, does cannabis really interact with antidepressant medications? It turns out that the jury is still out.
Antidepressants are among the most widely prescribed medications in the United States, with the CDC reporting over 13% of the population taking them. Additionally, cannabis is widely used, with an estimated more than 200 million users worldwide. So, what is the deal with antidepressants and weed? Much of the existing research on cannabis and antidepressants is contradictory and inconclusive. Some studies have found that cannabis use decreases the effectiveness of antidepressants, while others show no significant difference in outcomes. A few studies have even found that cannabis may improve symptoms when taken in combination with an antidepressant. Why are the results of these studies so varied? The answer likely has to do with the complexity of the human body and the reality that every person reacts differently to different substances.
It is important to note that there is little information on combining weed with antidepressants. According to a literature review published in 2010, the existing research found no reports of adverse effects between psychotropic medications and cannabis. That means that if people have had a bad experience with weed and antidepressants, they haven't reported it. Perhaps interactions either don't occur or are rare. These findings indicate combining marijuana and antidepressants is relatively safe for most people. For example, combining Zoloft and marijuana reportedly has a low to moderate risk of potential interaction. However, a few case reports suggest the possibility that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to develop hypomania, a mild form of mania, when using cannabis with Zoloft. Some types of antidepressants are more likely to interact with cannabis than others. There may be a risk of an increased heart rate when weed is combined with tricyclic antidepressants, an older class of antidepressants that newer antidepressants have largely replaced. Additionally, sedatives, benzodiazepines, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) have the potential to interact with cannabis. The new generation of antidepressants is better in many ways, including how they interact with cannabis. Compared to newer antidepressants, older antidepressants have higher rates of cannabis-drug reactions. The exception to this rule is fluvoxamine (Luvox), which is known to have potentially harmful interactions with cannabis. This is because fluvoxamine inhibits the enzymes that process delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9-THC), marijuana's primary psychoactive compound.
In general, it appears that significant drug interactions are relatively rare for weed and antidepressants. However, it's best to be open and transparent with your doctor and pharmacist about how much cannabis you use and make sure there aren’t any contraindications. It takes a delicate balance of tools and medications to treat mental disorders, each tailored for the individual patient. In some cases, marijuana should be excluded from the treatment plan. Antidepressants can be challenging to prescribe correctly and determining their efficacy can be difficult. Additionally, combining many substances makes it harder to evaluate each substance's effect. That is why physicians often prescribe one drug to patients and then add other drugs later. In other words, you should not start antidepressants and cannabis at the same time. Nonetheless, if you're a heavy cannabis user, you won't want to stop cold turkey when you begin your antidepressant treatment. While cannabis may have some similarities to antidepressants, cannabis is not a replacement for antidepressants. If you're considering smoking weed on antidepressants, it's important to talk to your doctor about how it might affect you specifically.
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