September 22, 2023 10:00 am ETEstimated Read Time: 6 Minutes
A recent study has shown that there is a significant increase in the global prevalence of depression. To combat this, many treatment options have been developed, and are still being developed to treat this condition. Among these, the use of antidepressants like fluoxetine (Prozac) and sertraline (Zoloft) stands out as the most popular medication for depression. However, there are recent developments and ongoing research to explore the use of medicinal cannabis as an additional treatment options. But is combining Prozac and cannabis safe?
It is, therefore, important to understand the risk associated with combining these two substances to avoid any unpleasant health complications. This article explains everything you need to know about how cannabis and antidepressants like fluoxetine interact. Make sure you read till the end!
About Prozac and Cannabis
Prozac and cannabis affect the body in different ways. It’s essential to understand how they each interact with our bodily systems individually before analyzing their combined impact.
How Cannabis Affects the Body
Cannabis is a plant that contains tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabidiol (CBD), and other compounds. While it is commonly used as a recreational substance, it has a lot of medical advantages. Cannabis has been used to treat chronic pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some other neurological disorders.
Recent medical explorations have revealed the possibility of using cannabis to treat depression caused by chronic stress because of how it affects the brain.
There are tiny receptors on the brain cells called cannabinoid receptors. These receptors receive endocannabinoids that the body naturally produces to connect our body and brain. When cannabis is consumed, it produces phytocannabinoids that can replace naturally occurring cannabinoids, thus making it possible to alter the way the body and the brain communicate.
This understanding of the effect of cannabis on the brain serves as a pathway to unlock the therapeutic role it can play in handling depression.
Antidepressants are also used to treat depression. They work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters or chemicals like serotonin and noradrenaline. These neurotransmitters help improve a patient’s mood and emotions, thus dealing with the symptoms of depression.
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Antidepressants also find their application in treating other conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). However, it is important to note that antidepressants sometimes come with side effects like dizziness, nausea, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
Types of Antidepressants
There are different types of antidepressants available today, and cannabis has a peculiar way of interacting with each of them. These types include:
Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI): These types of antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed. And the most popular SSRI is fluoxetine (Prozac). Other examples include Citalopram (Cipramil), Paroxetine (Aropax), and Sertraline (Zoloft). The combination of cannabis with an SSRI can prove lethal. For example, when Zoloft and cannabis are taken together, there can be an unhealthy rise in the serotonin level in a patient’s system, which is potentially harmful.
Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI): Common examples include Duloxetine (Cymbalta), Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and Levomilnacipran (Fetzima). The challenge with using them with cannabis is that cannabis can interfere with the potency of SNRIs.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCA): TCAs include Nortriptyline (Allegron), Amitriptyline (Tryptanol), Clomipramine (Anafranil) and Dosulepin (Prothiaden). Studies have shown that TCAs don’t do well with cannabis. Individuals stand the risk of delirium and heart palpitations when these antidepressants are used with cannabis. Also, other adverse effects like hallucinations, hypertension, and mood swings can occur.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI): These were the first types of antidepressants developed. Tranylcypromine (Parnate), Phenelzine (Nardil), and Moclobemide (Aurorix) are common examples of MAOIs. Although there isn’t much evidence on the negative effects of using these antidepressants with cannabis, it is believed that the components in cannabis can inhibit the activity of MAOIs in the body
Mixing Prozac and Cannabis
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) reported that at least 16 million adults in the U.S. are dealing with depression, and there are existing antidepressants to deal with the condition. However, with the increasing legalization of cannabis, it is common to find patients using weed to cope with depression.
When used individually and separately as prescribed, Prozac and cannabis are considered quite safe. Combining them on the other hand, comes with serious risks to look out for.
The Dangers of Prozac and Cannabis
Weed can increase the side effects usually associated with using fluoxetine. These side effects include dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, and even difficulty concentrating.
Elderly people may experience impairment in motor coordination, thinking, and judgment.
Using Prozac and cannabis can introduce too much serotonin in the brain, leading to a serious condition called serotonin syndrome.
Cannabis can affect the effectiveness of the liver to break down antidepressants, which leads to excessive amounts of antidepressants in the blood.
The Benefits of Fluoxetine and Cannabis
Despite the risks associated with using SSRIs like fluoxetine or Zoloft and weed, some patients have reported positive results when mixing Prozac and cannabis like:
Greater calming effect
However, there hasn’t been much research done to prove these claims sufficiently.
Cannabis generally has a lot of health benefits. However, you must be cautious when combining it with substances like antidepressants, alcohol, sedatives, or other narcotics. The reality of drug interaction with fatal consequences cannot be downplayed.
It is vital to know prescription drugs that are compatible with the use of cannabis and those that are not. Whether it’s Prozac and cannabis or another pharmaceutical, thoroughly research whatever medication you are using and speak with a healthcare professional to make safe and informed choices.
If you’re interested in using medical cannabis for depression, talk to a medical marijuana doctor to determine a wellness plan that meets your needs.
Note: The content on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be professional medical advice. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescribe treatment based on the information provided. Always consult a physician before making any decision on the treatment of a medical condition.
Mary Ekundayo is a passionate cannabis writer and entrepreneur with a love for all things literary. When she's not creating content, you can find Mary lost in the pages of a captivating book or meditating to set the tone for her day.
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