Double Depression and Marihuana

by
Anonymous

I am a student at the University of Iowa. I started counseling at the age of 13, but quit shortly after and, thus, was never diagnosed with anything. Two years ago, I was finally diagnosed with recurrent major depressive disorder, without full inter-episode recovery, superimposed on dysthymic disorder, (he called it "double depression," but I have never seen a medical reference to that term). I was prescribed Prozac, which worked fairly well. I had a few side effects which were relatively unpleasant, but nothing unbearable. The only real problem was that Prozac controlled the dysthymic disorder, but offered little help during an episode. My dosage was raised to cover me, but the extra coverage exacerbated the side effects.

My dosage was reduced and I was left with treated dysthmic disorder, but under-treated major depressive disorder. I had occasionally used marijuana for treatment of episodes in which I wouldn’t leave my room for days, so I was familiar with the concept of using marijuana medicinally, but feared it may be bad for me, so I used it only when I was really depressed. During a research project on medical ethics, I came across the medical marihuana debate and, because of my own personal anecdotal evidence, it really hit home. After reading all of the research, I realized that it WAS a medicine and it was a viable treatment adjunct. I then started looking around for a doctor in the area to prescribe, but all that I asked said that it was unapproved and illegal.

After discussing possible dosages on-line and in news groups with patients and professionals alike (although anonymously), I decided to self-treat during flair-ups (or "down times" as I used to call them) and during major depressive episodes (I usually had one every three months or so with a duration between a week and a week and a half). It amazed me how effective it was combined with the Prozac, with the only additional side effects being a slight decrease in memory and being a little giggly. Considering I was going from not getting out of bed to giggling while watching TV, I feel it was a vast improvement. Anyway, I don’t smoke cigarettes because of the health consequences and was concerned about marijuana smoking for the same reason. After more research, I designed a special vaporizer based on the OSHA data on THC vaporization temperatures. Not only was I able to reduce the amount of intake to achieve the same dosage, but by the end of an episode my throat no longer gets sore (although, it only got sore occasionally anyway, when I was smoking it).

About nine months ago some e-mail pals in the Netherlands suggested a low level dosage of THC orally for the adjunctive treatment of dysthymic disorder. Based on their data, I changed my treatment to include eating one low dosage marijuana cookie ever day (half in the morning, and half in the afternoon) without any alteration in cognition (at one time I wondered if it was just a placebo effect until I screwed up a batch and my dosage had to be reduced to of a cookie; but for the first day I had a little buzz for about 5 hours) and reduction of Prozac to 10mg per day from 20mg. In order to monitor for relapse into depression, and somewhat for my own curiosity, I took an abridged version of the test used for the National Depression Day screening every other day from a month before I started trials until I was sure I was in the clear (3 months after trials started). Looking back, I wish I had kept the old tests and data. Anyway, every week I graphed the results with Excel. My scores jumped, leveled off for a couple of weeks then slowly decreased until stabilizing at around week 8.

Final stabilization point averaged around 3-4 points higher than the baseline data from the month before trials. I know this isn’t anywhere near perfect research, so this could be completely coincidental, but I sure feel better. Point being, I have had both aspects of my depression under control for the past seven months with a reduction in the sweating and insomnia that Prozac caused in my case. I have even seen a reduction in the duration of episodes; they now average around 4-6 days. Obviously, I am happy with my coverage at this point.