"I currently take prescription medications to manage my depression, but would like to use something more natural."
The benefits of cannabis on each person are truly individual and the origins of depression vary; however, many cannabis users report relief from depressive tendencies and I have had several patients report improved mood with regular use. Your question is timely as the article below was
recently published in the Huffington Post:
The answer is not straight forward as factors that lead to depression are complex and successful treatment of depression is also multi-factorial. There are cases of cannabis users reporting worsening depression and mood issues with use as well. More studies are needed but there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that with the right strain or product, some users obtain relief from depressive issues. It is good to remember that cannabis may not "cure" depression but may facilitate the changes in the internal biology to allow us to better cope with depressed moods, anxiety and other emotional stressors that contribute to depression.
I encourage cannabis users to use the medicinal cannabis to treat their symptoms, but also to create mental space to address the factors that contribute to depression. It is infrequently discussed but, there is a mindfulness that may accompany cannabis use. Many people report that using cannabis allows them to "take a break from stress". I encourage users to use that break for "self care" such as hobbies, exercise, or any activity that is regenerating to your emotional state. This in combination with the symptom relief from cannabis may be therapeutic as well.
Cannabis users who are surveyed do report depression symptoms are reduced with cannabis use. Look for more studies regarding cannabis use and depression or mood issues in the future. These topics are being looked at with more intensity due to the intolerances and side effects of the anti-depressant pharmaceutical agents.
Note: If you decide to use cannabis to manage depression, you should coordinate management and reduction of prescribed anti-dperassants with you doctor as these medications often require a tapering of dosage over time to avoid unwanted mood disruptions. A precipitous mood change can occur if some anti-depressants are stopped suddenly.