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Cannabis May Help Combat the Holiday Blues

PHOTO Maria Eklind


Cannabis May Help Combat the Holiday Blues

Studies suggest marijuana can combat depression.

The holiday season is now in full swing. For some folks, this means spending tons of money on gifts to reassure their loved ones that they do, in fact, still love them, in spite of all of their shortcomings. There are others, however, that would just assume jam a sharp stick in their eye than endure anything festive this time of year. There are no menorahs or Christmas trees for these people, not on your life, as they have, through a series of unfortunate events along the way, become somewhat callous to all of the lights, carols and fun that other people seem to be having.

It’s not that they ever wanted to become a modern day Scrooge. But the loss of loved ones, divorce, or any number of bad luck gut punches has left them feeling sad, lonely and riddled with anxiety in the weeks before that Santa guy is supposed to come sliding down the chimney. So, Ho-Ho-freaking-Ho. Unfortunately, there is no way of warding off the holiday blues entirely, but there is a great deal of research out there that suggests that marijuana might help make it more tolerable.

One of the newest studies on the subject appears in the latest journal Addiction. It shows that while marijuana use has experienced an increase in the United States, the bulk of the consumption is by people suffering from depression. The study, which examined some 730,000 people 12 and older, found that folks who are down-in-the-dumps are using cannabis to help elevate their mood.

In 2017, around 19% of the depressives in the 18-25-year-old demographic used marijuana within the past month, the study finds, while the numbers were closer to 9% for those who were not depressed. Those with depression were also twice as likely to use cannabis daily as opposed to those without it. “The rate of increase in cannabis use has increased more rapidly among those with depression,” said Renee Goodwin, PhD, MPH, of Columbia University and The City University of New York.

It is worth mentioning, though, that this study does not explicitly hone in on the perils of a melancholy December. It doesn’t have to. The holiday blues, blahs (whatever you want to call them) is just a fancy label for a temporary bout with depression. Still, it is a condition that can be amplified for anyone who is already getting their cage rattled on a daily basis by a mental health disorder. It comes with feelings of exhaustion, lack of joy, irritability and withdrawing from family and friends. Toss in a month of Christmas music and cheesy Hallmark movies (is Christmas time really that much happier in Vermont?) and the holiday blues can go dark really quick.

But being high for the holidays could be just what the doctor ordered. Other studies have shown that cannabis is a reliable method for combatting anxiety and depression. But it’s all in how a person medicates that makes the difference between finding the Christmas spirit within or actually being haunted by it. Just last year, researchers at Washington State University (WSU) found that medical marijuana could really boost the overall mood of the emotionally downtrodden. Scientists said that one or two hits from a strain high in the plant’s non-intoxicating component CBD and lower in THC was effective in treating symptoms of depression.

This is interesting considering that a lot of folks are often under the impression that consuming strains with higher THC content sets them on course for happier times. But in reality, those strains have a tendency to make anxiety worse for some — a problem that no one needs more of when venturing out to the mall for some last-minute shopping this time of year. Therefore, people suffering from the holiday blues might find more Christmas cheer by microdosing strains such as Jack Herer or Harlequin. On a personal note, I’ve always found it difficult to be depressed about anything while on Blue Dream. This strain, which is one of America’s all-time favorites, has a way of locking away the ugliness of most situations and opening that trapdoor in the mind that leads to bright ideas and laughter.

But as with all things related to marijuana and the individual, it is important to ask your budtender for recommendations. Rest assured, they have met others suffering from the bah-humbugs, the same as you, and may have some strategic advice to keep you from becoming a Christmas calamity.

TELL US, does cannabis help you get through the holidays?

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