According to new research published in BMC Psychiatry, cannabis can improve sleep in those suffering from depression and/or anxiety.
Sleep troubles often come as part of various mental disorders, and are difficult to handle. Often, a cycle occurs and makes things worse: insomnia can worsen depression, and depression can cause insomnia. Though it is estimated that some 10-30% (with other studies claiming even higher percentages) of the global population suffers from insomnia, there are not many effective treatments for it.
As marijuana gains in popularity and its legal status slowly but steadily changes across the globe, there is a greater need for more scientific research.
Authors of the new study noted that the results confirm “the need for placebo-controlled trials investigating symptom improvement and the safety of cannabinoids for sleep in individuals with mood and anxiety disorders.”
The study analyzed data from 100 participants with depression, 463 participants with anxiety and 114 participants with both. They were tracked for three years (2017 to 2020) via an app where they reported their sleep-related symptoms and details of marijuana use. Participants also noted demographic information.
Participants recorded the type, form and dosage of cannabis they consumed and then rated their symptoms after each use.
The study discovered that CBD-dominant and Indica strains were the common choices of those suffering from depression. Indica and Indica hybrid were the main choices for those with anxiety or both depression and anxiety. The majority of participants consumed cannabis in dried flower form.
Was it helpful? It turns out that marijuana managed to notably help participants under 45 with depression but not as much for those above 45. As for those dealing with anxiety, cannabis helped with symptoms across all age groups, while the 35-44 age group experienced more positive effects than the 25-34 group. Participants of all ages suffering from both conditions also found marijuana helpful.
Among the most important limitations was that participants were self-reporting, meaning they may not have had a diagnosis of their conditions.
Everything else was also self-reported — symptoms, usage, effects, etc.
“This naturalistic investigation of cannabis use for insomnia suggests that individuals with depression, anxiety, and comorbid depression and anxiety perceive benefits from using cannabis for sleep, although the extent to which this reflects pharmacological efficacy versus response expectancies (i.e., placebo effects) cannot be ascertained,” the study authors said.
Nevertheless, the authors concluded, “the results from the naturalistic study can provide a better understanding of cannabis usage profiles for insomnia while providing valuable information for future trials designed to evaluate efficacy and safety of cannabis for therapeutic purposes.”