Although not very well documented, the interaction between marijuana and some antidepressants can lead to unpleasant side effects depending on the substance.
Antidepressants are widely used medications for mental health problems including depression and anxiety. Marijuana, which is illegal at the federal level but has varying legality across states in the U.S., is also a common substance.
So what about the combined use of marijuana and antidepressants? Does marijuana affect antidepressants? Below is more information about how marijuana interacts with various antidepressants.
Understanding Different Antidepressants Drug Classes
Antidepressants are mental health medicines designed to balance out certain chemicals in the brain that affect behavior and mood. Although the chemical targets can vary, antidepressants generally increase the level of serotonin in your brain.
Antidepressants are a broad category of drugs and include many drug classes:
- SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, like Prozac
- SNRIs, or serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, like Cymbalta
- TCAs, or tricyclic antidepressants, like amitriptyline
- MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors, like Zelapar
- Atypical antidepressants like Remeron, trazodone and bupropion
While all of these drugs are broadly defined as antidepressants, they are different from one another in many ways, including how they work on the brain and what possible drug interactions might exist. Also, patients respond differently to different types of antidepressants.
Known Marijuana and Antidepressant Interactions
- SSRIs and Marijuana: Cannabidiol, or CBD, in marijuana can increase the levels of SSRIs in your bloodstream because CBD blocks your body from clearing the antidepressant as quickly as normal. Having increased levels of serotonin in your body from SSRI use can cause a potentially fatal condition called serotonin syndrome.
- Tricyclic antidepressants and CBD: The CBD in marijuana can increase the level of TCAs in your body. This can cause increased side effects like high blood pressure, dry mouth and constipation.
- SNRIs and THC: The THC in marijuana can decrease the level of the SNRI Cymbalta in your body. This can lead to the Cymbalta being less effective.
Interactions between marijuana and other antidepressants are less well-documented.
In addition, it’s possible that if you suffer from depression, you may also be more likely to self-medicate with marijuana or other substances. However, new research suggests that marijuana is not likely to worsen depression or anxiety.
Summing Up — Does Marijuana Affect Antidepressants?
In some cases, yes. However, research has not yet shown a link between marijuana and all antidepressants. Nonetheless, you should always speak with your doctor first and exercise caution before mixing any medications or substances.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana Research Report: Is there a li[…]ychiatric disorders?” April 2020. Accessed June 27, 2020.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Marijuana Research Report: What are marijuana’s effects?” April 2020. Accessed June 27, 2020.
Government of the District of Columbia Department of Health. “Medical Cannabis Adverse Effects & Drug Interactions,” Accessed June 27, 2020.
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