A reader writes:
A couple years ago I found that my productivity at work was declining and I was losing interest in doing just about anything in my life. A friend of mine recommended I see a psychiatrist; I was diagnosed as having depression, and prescribed Wellbutrin. Within a month I was starting to feel a little bit better and was a little more productive, but there was a huge tradeoff: the medication was causing my heart to race and skip beats and was making my jaw clench. I was afraid to continue Wellbutrin given its side effects, but I didn't want to give up on trying to treat my depression.
Being in California, I went to my doctor and got a recommendation for marijuana.
(I had only tried it twice in my life before then, and had never thought it could really be used for medicinal purposes.) I visited the local dispensary, got some sativa (the uplifting, energetic, clear-headed kind of cannabis), and got a vaporizer. Over the course of the next year I had some sativa once or twice a week (more than that is counterproductive); it made my depression go away completely. Earlier this year I decided that my treatment had run its course, so I stopped using cannabis. I've been doing fine since and have had no withdrawal issues.
While Wellbutrin was effective, it had dangerous side effects; for the same condition, it turns out that sativa was just as effective for me and had none of the negative side effects (and since I used a vaporizer I didn't have to smoke anything). Bottom line: I was surprised to find that cannabis sativa was effective to treat my depression, but it really worked. I also realized that what I had been taught about marijuana as a kid was wrong - it is less addictive than alcohol and its intoxicating effects are less debilitating.
I've done some research on it since then, and have found that studies show that cannabis sativa is effective in treating depression when used moderately (like I did - once or twice each week), but is counterproductive when used excessively (such as every day).