It’s no secret that people use marijuana to cope with stress or depression, but unlike antidepressants, it can make matters worse over time. So many wonder after receiving a prescription medication, is it safe to use something like Lexapro and weed together?
Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States for people between the ages of 15 to 44. According to Harvard Health, nearly one in every 10 American uses an antidepressant, with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), like Lexapro, being the most commonly prescribed.
Combined with the growing list of states that have legalized weed in some way or another, there is little doubt that people are probably mixing Lexapro and marijuana, or other types antidepressants.
Unfortunately, there’s little to no research about the effects of mixing weed and Lexapro or antidepressants.
This is due, in large part, to the fact that marijuana is still listed as a schedule I narcotic by the federal government and illegal on a national basis at the federal level.
Because of this drug scheduling status, it makes it nearly impossible for scientists to examine or perform studies about any possible drug interactions or side effects from the combination of marijuana and antidepressant medications.
Luckily for health research, that could be changing as the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs recently voted to remove cannabis from the world’s most dangerous drugs category. That move could pave the way for more countries to lighten restrictions and allow for much needed research.
Is Mixing Lexapro and Weed Safe?
In any given year, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) estimates nearly 16 million adults suffer from depression, a number that is likely underreported because people fear being labeled with a mental health condition. Others refuse to seek treatment because of the stigma associated with it.
It’s fairly common for some of these people to self-medicate with pot as a way to cope with their depressive symptoms. In fact, some people might not even realize that they’re self-medicating because they might be unfamiliar with the symptoms of depression.
Whatever the case may be, using marijuana for depression might not be harmful for a minority of people. At least in the short term.
Others, however, may respond poorly and find that the symptoms of depression and anxiety become worse with marijuana use.
This is particularly true if a pot user is unaware of the type and strength of the strain of marijuana they’re ingesting. Indica strains tend to have a calming effect, while sativa strains can be more energetic and cloud the mind in a way that’s unhelpful or even dangerous for a person suffering with mental health issues.
Of course, each person reacts differently as well, with some becoming paranoid or exhibiting a heightened anxiety response when stoned.
Here are a few things to consider before mixing marijuana and Lexapro (escitalopram):
- Some prescription medications can have adverse effects when mixed with alcohol or marijuana, including, potentially, some antidepressants
- Many people respond differently to the same type of drugs, so it’s not necessarily safe for everyone to smoke pot and take antidepressants just because another person didn’t experience any side effects
- A lot of physicians will refuse to prescribe antidepressants if they know their patient is a pot user because there are few studies showing that mixing the two drugs is safe
- Over the long-term, chronic marijuana use can actually change the brain’s structure and function, causing a person to become more depressed
- Despite the idea in popular culture that weed is harmless, marijuana use disorder and addiction are very real and can create significant life problems and require treatment
Can You Smoke Weed on Lexapro?
Escitalopram, the generic form of Lexapro, and other SSRIs like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and Celexa are the most common medications prescribed for depression.
Though they are not free from side effects, most people on these drugs report fewer interactions with other substances, including marijuana.
That does not mean, though, that mixing escitalopram and weed won’t lead to negative side effects.
Most doctors do not recommend mixing antidepressants and pot. For one, it can be difficult to tell if an antidepressant medication is working if a person continues to smoke or vape weed.
Antidepressants are specifically designed to help with the symptoms of depression and other conditions. It’s necessary to let them do their thing as intended, without complications from other substances that also impact the brain the brain and mood.
So, if a person with depression continues their marijuana use, the antidepressant medication might be rendered ineffective.
In addition, regular marijuana use might actually be a factor in causing the symptoms of depression. If this is the case, taking a break from smoking weed will allow the brain to return to normal functioning and possibly reduce depression symptoms.
The Bottom Line on Antidepressants Like Lexapro and Weed
At the current time, there isn’t any research to show that mixing Lexapro and marijuana is either safe or unsafe. In most cases, it probably won’t cause any adverse drug interactions.
With that said, the best approach is to not mix Lexapro and weed. If the antidepressant medication is working, there is no reason to risk a relapse of depressive symptoms by adding marijuana to the mix.
There are natural ways to increase serotonin to improve mood and offset the symptoms of depression. Antidepressants work in this way, but interrupting their natural process with other substances like marijuana can decrease their effectiveness.
Unfortunately, some people have developed a dependence or addiction to marijuana and find it difficult or impossible to stop using it.
If this is the case, it might be time to consider speaking to someone about potential treatment for a dependency or addiction to weed.
For anyone that has a combined addiction and mental health issue such as depression, it’s necessary to find a dual diagnosis rehab program that will treat both conditions at the same time. Dual diagnosis offers the best chance for a successful recovery of both.