4 Strategies for Managing Depression After Quitting Marijuana

The other day I was talking to a guy that was trying to quit weed. He told me he had smoked every day for about 6 years and now wish he never started.

I asked him why he never quit? He explained that for him, depression would set in if he stopped smoking after 48 hours and because of this, he had no way to quit weed.

He had no strategies for managing depression after marijuana and he had a belief that marijuana kept him from being depressed.

Affecting approximately 25 percent of those attempting to quit marijuana. Depression is only second to the very common complaint: I can’t sleep without smoking weed.

Weed, whether smoked or ingested produces a euphoric, relaxed and even apathetic sensation in the marijuana user. So it only stands to reason that when you stop smoking weed people often report feelings of severe depression, anxiety and agitation.

Depression is a very serious medical condition, but fortunately most people who experience its symptoms while trying to quit marijuana will only do so for a short while, as their brain readjusts to being “smoke free.” 

Other people go on to develop serious depression and rely on this diagnosis as an excuse to inhale more marijuana. This is when depression becomes one of the most serious of marijuana withdrawals when you quit weed.

[showmyads]Chance are you don’t have serious depression but more a case of transitional depression as you move your life away from marijuana. In the meantime, however, these symptoms can be frightening and quite debilitating, and may tempt the potential “quitter” to begin lighting up again.

The symptoms of depression include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Loss of interest in things once enjoyed
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Feeling hopeless or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide

Needless to say, any or all of these symptoms have the ability to significantly impact normal day-to-day functioning and can create problems at work, school and home, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks and form and maintain relationships.

Managing Depression after Quitting Marijuana

As stated earlier, most depression symptoms will begin to ease on their own as the marijuana cessation period lengthens, but there are several effective treatment strategies to help manage these symptoms until they do.  Among them are:

  • Medication.  Medication is a very effective treatment alternative for the management of temporary depression symptoms.  The medications used primarily for this purpose are antidepressants belonging to the class of drugs called “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors,” or SSRIs.  These drugs, which include well-known names such as Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, work by altering the effect of certain neurotransmitters in the brain that are responsible for mood and emotional stability.
  • Behavioral Therapy.  Behavioral therapy, also known as cognitive restructuring, helps people who are recovering from marijuana addiction change the way they react to certain stimuli, and get to the core of their depression symptoms.
  • Exercise.  Exercise is one of the best ways to beat the temporary blues associated with post-marijuana depression. Strenuous exercise, such as running or cycling, releases chemicals in the brain that produce a temporary euphoric feeling.  This sensation, often referred to as a “runner’s high,” can last well after the exercise has been concluded.  Moreover, a regular exercise routine will help you to sleep—sleep can be difficult when people are depressed or quitting marijuana, especially both!
  • Meditation.  When most people think of meditation they probably picture an eastern monk of some kind chanting to the Gods, but modern meditation has come a long way and is often prescribed as a remedy for depression.  In meditation, people are taught how to completely relax their bodies while taking focused, measured breaths and clearing their mind of any outside distractions.  By focusing on their breathing and nothing else, people are able to forget their troubling, depression-worsening thoughts, such as regrets about the past and anxiety about the future, and replace them with more positive and uplifting ones.

For the marijuana smoker attempting to quit, the risk of serious depression may sound like a lot to handle, but when weighed against the potential health hazards of not quitting, including cancer, diabetes and even brain damage, temporary and treatable depression is a very small price to pay.

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16 Responses to “4 Strategies for Managing Depression After Quitting Marijuana”

  1. DArren moss says:

    I have smoked about oz a week and would like to quit and need a bit of help plese

    • Gary says:

      I have recently quit smoking weed after about 6 years of getting high nearly everyday. I used to smoke about a half oz a week if not more. First week was the hardest but now in my third week things are looking alot better. I have been practising meditation which has been making things a bit easier. I have random days i feel terrible and worthless. To deal with these i picture my life in a year or so and where i want to be and know i can do it.

      • Seb says:

        Thanks Gary for this, I find people looking to the future will always have a higher chance of quitting marijuana (by far) than those that continually look to the past.

        I had some serious comments today Gary but this one is a Gem.

        Meditation is a great way to replace marijuana addiction, in fact, I have recently started deep meditation daily and I must say, my productivity just tripled – again! Last time that happened was when I quit smoking marijuana, all those years ago…

        I say master meditation because you will evolve. I know you can do it too buddy, either way – onwards!

  2. Seb says:

    Hey Darren, I used to smoke about that much. Geez I remember, I had no energy and didn’t like doing too much.

    First, you need to figure out a strong ‘why’. Is there any particular reason you would like to quit?

  3. I almost never see smokers mention support places to quit smoking. Places like stop smoking communities could help you to stop smoking without alternatives whatsoever. Got a desire to smoke, just make a thread and receive support. It really helps! Just go for it, you will be quite surprised the amount of people would want to help you.

  4. Banki says:

    Hey dude, Steve here… Keep ‘em coming… you are doing a great job with this blog, inspiring many newbies like me… can’t tell you how much I appreciate all you do! – Steve

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  6. Seb says:

    I have sent you guys personal emails

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  11. Andi says:

    Hey Seb,
    Nice post. I published something similar on my blog some time ago.
    The thing with the depressions is most likely this: Marijuana used to “fill in the gaps” and without it there’s only the gaps left. In the beginning that is.
    It’s all about patterns. If your daily pattern is to get high and go to work, work may not seem good enough for you anymore. Same goes for watching tv. So you get “depressed”
    I think the best way to fight the depressions is to do something you’ve never done before. And not related to drugs…
    It can be as simple as a visit to a museum in your neighborhood. Anything to pass the time and fill the gap.
    I find your blog very refreshing and I hope I can write a guest post for you sometime.
    All the best,

    • Seb says:

      Hey Andi,

      I know what you’re saying and I agree. Once weed is gone, sometimes it can seem difficult to know what to do with yourself. You need new activity. This is one of the main things people that quit weed still don’t anticipate. You need a replacement for marijuana if you’re a regular smoker about to quit, I’d say sometimes more than a trip to the museum. You need something that can amuse you regularly for 2-6 weeks – depending on how deeply marijuana has penetrated your life. A new habit to replace the old habit. Something needs to fill that ‘GAP’ or most people will experience severe symptoms.

      As for adding a guest post here – you’ll receive an email from me with an invite shortly.

  12. sion jones says:

    I recantly stoped smoking weed, about 8 weeks ago and getting more and more depressed each day that passes. Having a great deal of problems getting off to sleep also. Been taking zopiclone sleeping tablet on and off during the past 8 weeks to try and help with my sleeping pattern but as soon as I stop taking them I lose my sleeping pattern again and end up going to sleep at around 6-7 am. Im not sure if the zopiclone actually worsens the depression!. Never had depression before in my life, even when I used to smoke heavily. It doesnt do any differnce if I exercise during the day or do strenuous work to try and (knacker) myself out. I just dont know what to do and how to sort this out, but im determined not to go back to smoking weed but saying that, I cant see any possotive effects from stopping it. I still cant be bothered socializing and still feel as lazy as I did before. Some of my friends think im a drama queen though!! Any advice out there? It woud be much appriciated. Thanks guys and gals

  13. Owen says:

    Hello all, I’ve been a heavy smoker for about 12 years now. Smoked roughly 6 joints a day for the last 5.
    I’ve also smoked cigarettes quite heavily for around the same amount of time.
    As a person who loves nature and the outdoors, I feel I’ve had enough of watching it on the discovery channel!
    Now, I want to quit it all. I know this blog focuses primarily on the cessation of marijuana smoking, but the research I’ve done on quitting both leaves me with the impression that the quitting tactics are quite similar.
    As of tonight I plan on stopping both. I was just wondering if there was anyone else who has any experience quitting both at once. Will I get twice the depression?

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