The Effects of Mixing Weed and Antidepressants
Antidepressants are a classification of prescription drugs that help address anxiety or depression, as well as a variety of other mental health problems that a person may be suffering from. There are several different types of anti-depressants, all of which address different symptoms and may react to a person’s brain in different ways.
Despite these differences in medication, users are often told not to drink or use drugs simultaneously because of the negative consequences associated with mixing substances. Because antidepressants deal with your brain and different neurochemicals, using substances such as weed may result in adverse effects.
Types of Antidepressants
The type of antidepressant a person uses depends on what they decide is best with their doctor. The following types of medications address different aspects of a person’s brain or body, and they can interact with weed in different ways.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
SSRIs are non-addictive antidepressants that often have fewer side effects than other medications used to address mental health disorders. They work by increasing the amount of serotonin in a person’s brain through a blocking mechanism that doesn’t allow neurons to absorb excess serotonin. Common SSRIs include Lexapro, Prozac, Celexa, Paxil, and Zoloft.
The interaction of weed with a person using SSRIs requires more research, but the combination of the two may cause severe adverse reactions. Some early research indicates that THC interacts with SSRIs in a way that causes an increased potential for serotonin syndrome. This may cause certain effects such as:
- High Blood Pressure
Using THC while taking an SSRI can also cause drowsiness, which may lead to severe consequences if a motor vehicle is operated while under the influence.
Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor (SNRI)
SNRIs are similar to SSRIs in that they block the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. These medications are more commonly known as Cymbalta, Pristiq, and Fetzima and are used to treat depression, anxiety, and in some cases, long-term pain. When mixed with weed, an SNRI may lose its effectiveness and cause a person to experience more of that depression or anxiety that it was originally meant to treat.
Atypical antidepressants are called atypical because they do not fit into any other category of antidepressant. These medications address depression by changing the neurotransmitters in the brain, allowing the medication to ease certain symptoms. Some of the more well-known atypical antidepressants include:
Depending on how the specific atypical antidepressant affects different neurotransmitters, there may be different drug interactions when weed is introduced to the mix. If the antidepressant medication is similar to an SSRI, smoking weed may cause an increase in the serotonin levels in the brain to the point of serotonin syndrome. If, however, it is more like an SNRI, it may cause the antidepressant to become ineffective. This may cause symptoms such as panic attacks, increased symptoms of depression, and other negative side effects.
Tricyclic antidepressants are typically used to treat major depressive disorder, but they aren’t often prescribed today unless a person has tried other, newer antidepressants that don’t work for them. These medications were some of the earliest developed and include drugs like Norpramin and Pamela. Though they have more side effects than newer medications, they may be a good option for some people.
When combined with cannabis, however, the interaction increases the TCAs in the body which might lead to high blood pressure, dry mouth, or constipation. Though not life-threatening, these side effects may pose a risk or complicate health issues.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs)
MAOIs were the very first type of antidepressant medication developed to address mental health conditions like depression or anxiety. When used, they alter the way that neurotransmitters communicate with the brain. MAOIs prevent the enzyme monoamine oxidase from removing serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine from the brain. Though these medications can be used to help people overcome their depression, they do often require certain dietary and medication restrictions.
When combined with cannabis products, the negative side effects of this drug may be increased and may cause serotonin syndrome or a variety of other consequences.
Dangers of Mixing Antidepressants and Weed
Though there is not a lot of research currently on the interactions between prescription medications that treat depression and marijuana use, combining medications with substance use is always dangerous. Cannabis use can cause these drugs to be less effective, may lead to negative consequences, or may cause serotonin syndrome.
People taking antidepressants are also more likely to self-medicate with marijuana, so using both at the same time may indicate a deeper issue with substance abuse. Taking substances like marijuana can actually worsen a person’s mental health problems and may lead to a worsening of those problems, which completely negates the antidepressant a person is taking to help with depression or anxiety disorders.
Substance abuse is a serious disorder, and it is very common in people struggling with anxiety or depression. People often self-medicate to decrease negative symptoms, but in the long run, all that does is make those symptoms worse. If you or a loved one is taking antidepressants and abusing marijuana, that is an indication that there are more problems at play. Seeking professional help through a treatment center is the best way to overcome these disorders.
If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, particularly if it is affecting you because of the antidepressants you’re taking, seeking help is the first step. There is no shame in seeking treatment. It is the best way to overcome addiction and can provide you with achievable steps to sobriety.
There are many different resources out there to help you find an addiction treatment center that best addresses your needs and can help start your journey. A dual diagnosis facility such as Southeast Detox may be the best choice because they are specifically trained to address addiction at the same time as they address the underlying mental health condition. Call us today to get the help you deserve.