New Study Finds That Marijuana Is Effective In Treating Depression Among Elderly Patients
Depression is a serious mental health issue that doesn’t just affect young adults.
Even our grandparents and the elderly can suffer from depression, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, major depression affects around 1% to 5% of the elderly though it the occurrence is much more among older people living in healthcare facilities. Depression among the elderly is also much more common among those who have illnesses, such as cancer or heart problems – which cause limitations and serious changes in their daily lives.
While there are many things that are part of getting older, such as reduced strength and insomnia, depression is not a normal part of aging. The elderly also exhibit different symptoms of depression compared to younger people, which can make it challenging to identify if someone you love is struggling with depression.
That said, depression – no matter how old you are – requires critical attention and management.
And depression is among the myriad of conditions that can be treated safely with cannabis, even for the elderly.
According to a recent study from Tel Aviv, Israel, continued consumption of pharmaceutical-grade marijuana has been shown to be effective in reducing depression as well as opioid use and pain among older patients. The findings, which were published in the Biomedicines medical journal, came about after Israeli researchers analyzed self-reported results among 119 elderly patients with a mean age of 79. A majority of the participants were suffering from chronic pain, and medicated with marijuana tinctures for at least 6 months.
According to the study’s authors, cannabis was responsible for helping greatly reduce chronic pain scores among the patients. Cannabis was also beneficial in alleviating depression, contributing to improvements in their daily lives, particularly for those over the age of 80. “Cannabis contributes to the amelioration of depressive symptoms, as indicated by the GDS score, while also achieving discernible pain alleviation,” wrote the authors. “Our findings also demonstrate the relatively favorable safety profile of cannabis therapy,” they concluded.
Senior Citizens A Fast-Growing Demographic In The Cannabis Industry
For several years now, the legal cannabis industry has witnessed the surprising growth of a key demographic in the business. It was certainly not what we expected: senior citizens.
These days, it’s no longer uncommon for elderly parents and grandparents to turn to the many cannabis products available to help them cope with getting older – and the many uncomfortable mental and physical conditions that come with it. After all, the widespread legalization of marijuana in the United States has helped to eliminate the stigma; cannabis has effectively begun to pique the interest of senior citizens who are interested in natural medicine for things like chronic pain, arthritis, insomnia, and even depression. It can even help manage conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia, Alzheimer’s, Huntington Disease, and so much more.
In fact, the quality of life for seniors, as a whole, can greatly improve with cannabis use.
A report by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that most older adults turn to medical marijuana to help alleviate their illnesses. “Pain, insomnia and anxiety were the most common reasons for cannabis use and, for the most part, patients reported that cannabis was helping to address these issues, especially with insomnia and pain,” explains the study’s co-author, Christopher Kaufmann, PhD. “Surprisingly, we found that nearly three-fifths of cannabis users reported using cannabis for the first time as older adults. These individuals were a unique group compared to those who used cannabis in the past,” adds co-first author Kevin Yang.
A study from 2022 by Israeli researchers revealed that older patients experience improvements in quality of life after using medical marijuana. For this study, researchers assessed around 10,000 patients with a mean age of 55, and were enrolled in Israel’s medical marijuana program. The participants were like to be diagnosed with pain, cancer, or post-traumatic stress.
The patients reported that marijuana was extremely effective in reducing their symptoms. A staggering 91% of elderly patients with post-traumatic stress said cannabis was effective, followed by 78% with chronic pain, and 84% with inflammatory bowel disease. Other benefits of using cannabis were being able to stop consumption of opioids after treatment with marijuana, an effect that has been observed in multiple other scientific and clinical studies from around the world.
“In this prospective study, we describe the characteristics and outcomes of approximately 10,000 patients treated with medical cannabis. Results showed high adherence, high safety with a low incidence of adverse events, and a high rate of effectiveness in the prescribed treatment, as well as a decrease in pain levels, improvement in QOL, and a reduction in the consumption of concomitant medications,” concluded the authors.
Marijuana is generally well-tolerated by older adults. However, consume with caution or consult with a doctor: high doses of THC can be dangerous for the elderly, so you could be better off consuming high CBD cannabis products or those with a more balanced ratio of THC and CBD for safety. Keep in mind that the aging population are much more sensitive to the effects of the psychoactive tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is commonly seen in extremely high doses in many cannabis strains.
If you live in a legal state, feel free to ask advice from a budtender at a popular, licensed dispensary. They can also provide you with valuable knowledge when it comes to dosing and products suitable for aging patients.