Marijuana and Antidepressants | Does Marijuana Affect Antidepressants?

Antidepressants, which were first developed in the 1950s, are widely used. Marijuana, which has varying legality across states in the U.S., is also commonly used by many people.

So what about the combined use of marijuana and antidepressants? Does marijuana affect antidepressants?

These are questions people tend to have pretty frequently, so what is the answer? What is the relationship between marijuana and antidepressants?

Below is more information about both marijuana and antidepressants on their own, and answers to questions like “does marijuana affect antidepressants?”

Marijuana and Antidepressants | Does Marijuana Affect Antidepressants?
Marijuana is a substance derived from the Cannabis plant, that’s approved for medicinal purposes in some states, and recreationally in states including Colorado, but is recreationally illegal in most states. It has psychoactive properties because of a substance called THC that enters the brain and creates a sense of relaxation that many people find pleasurable.

Marijuana, while generally viewed as relatively harmless, can cause different effects in different people. For example, some people may experience paranoia or anxiety when they use it.
Marijuana also causes effects including changes in sensory and time perception and increased appetite.

Antidepressants are psychiatric medicines designed to balance out certain chemicals in the brain that affect behavior and mood. Antidepressants are not only used to treat depression, but also anxiety disorders.

There are different types of antidepressants including monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs, and noradrenaline and specific serotoninergic antidepressants, or NASSAs. Seratonin and noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors or SNRIs are another class of antidepressants that are also used to treat a range of mood disorders as well as conditions like fibromyalgia. One of the most commonly prescribed classes of antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs. SSRIs work by blocking the absorption of serotonin in the brain, which helps with the receiving and sending of messages to promote stabilized moods.

While all of these drugs are broadly defined as being 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. For most people on these medications, the most effective treatment plans include psychotherapy as well.
So, how do marijuana and antidepressants potentially interact with one another?

Does marijuana affect antidepressants? It’s tough to define what possible interactions exist between marijuana and antidepressants in many ways, because of a few reasons. First, there aren’t a lot of studies that have been done looking at the interactions or relationship between marijuana and antidepressants to date. Also, there are so many different kinds of antidepressants, that marijuana may interact with one differently from another. Finally, people respond to antidepressants and marijuana so differently from one to the next, which makes it a difficult thing to understand as well.

In the limited studies that have been done on marijuana and antidepressants so far, such as one done by the University of Connecticut, there is a theory that there may not be any major interactions between the two. This may not speak to the marijuana as much as it does the antidepressants, which tend to have very few side effects for most people, even compared to older versions of these medications. At the same time, there’s also the potential that a lot of researchers don’t want to look at marijuana and antidepressants because of the stigma of marijuana use.

While research on marijuana and antidepressants is limited, there are some things to keep in mind if you’re wondering “does marijuana affect antidepressants.”

First, you shouldn’t use marijuana and antidepressants without speaking to your doctor. Also, you need to be aware that using marijuana and antidepressants together has the potential to delay or minimize the effectiveness of the drug you’re prescribed. It can also be difficult to know if an antidepressant is effective at all if you’re also using marijuana at the same time. It can be easy to confuse symptoms or think the medicine isn’t working at all.

It’s possible that if you suffer from depression that you may also be more likely to self-medicate with marijuana or other substances, so this should be something that gives you caution as well.
If you use substances like marijuana or even alcohol you may also be less likely to follow your treatment plan as you’re supposed to.

With specific types of antidepressants, there are different levels of risk as well. If you’re asking does marijuana affect antidepressants, it seems to have the least amount of effect when used with SSRIs, but that’s probably because this class of drugs has the fewest side effects in general. One of the classes of antidepressants that can have the highest risk level when used with marijuana are MAOIs. MAOIs tend to have the most general side effects and adverse interactions.

So, does marijuana affect antidepressants? The short answer is that a lot isn’t yet known about marijuana and antidepressants, but there may be interactions so you should always speak with your doctor and exercise caution. If you’re combining marijuana and antidepressants, it may also be more difficult to determine whether or not your medication is working or to follow your treatment protocol.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.