More than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, so, if you’re one of them, you’re definitely not alone. Knowing that, however, doesn’t always make it that much easier for people to deal with the ravages of depression, the world’s most common mood disorder and number one cause of disability. Unfortunately, many people’s depression goes entirely untreated, in part because of distrust in traditional allopathic medications like antidepressants and conventional treatments for depression like “talk therapy.”

Fortunately, medical marijuana is offering people with depression a new, more natural treatment option with profound promise for its effectiveness. While depression is not explicitly listed as one of the qualifying conditions to get a medical marijuana card in Arizona, that does not mean a person with depression cannot get a medical card in Arizona. In fact, there are several ways a person with depression can get an Arizona medical marijuana card, and this article will explore them in greater depth.

How to Qualify for an Arizona Medical Card With Depression

Your depression itself may not qualify you for an Arizona medical card, but you may have another condition at the same time that might make you eligible for it. A comorbidity is a fancy word for having two or more chronic diseases at once. If you have a comorbidity with your depression, or your depression is a symptom of another condition that is listed as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Arizona, then you, too, can qualify for an Arizona medical marijuana card.

One of the most common conditions that occurs comorbidly with depression is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) Often, depression is a result, outcropping, or even a symptom of PTSD. But, even if your depression and your PTSD aren’t so linked, if you have PTSD too, you can simply get your Arizona medical marijuana card for that. Note as well that, if your depression was precipitated by a traumatic event, you may be eligible for a diagnosis of PTSD too. Depression is, in fact, a common symptom of many other conditions and, even, of the treatment and recovery process for many such illnesses. Likewise, depression can be a side effect of medication required to treat a particular illness that qualifies for a medical card in Arizona. Read the following list of other qualifying conditions for medical marijuana in Arizona to see if you meet any of those other eligibility requirements:

  • Agitation of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Persistent and/or severe muscle spasms, such as those associated with multiple sclerosis
  • Seizures, such as those associated with epilepsy

Also considered a qualifying condition for medical marijuana in Arizona is any chronic condition or debilitating condition or the treatment for any such condition that yields chronic and severe pain, extreme nausea and/or wasting syndrome (cachexia.) In other words, if your depression is chronic and/or debilitating and that depression or the treatment for it causes you at least one of those three symptoms (nausea, pain or wasting) you qualify for a medical marijuana card in Arizona.

How Medical Marijuana Can Help Treat Depression

In a study of marijuana for depression made up of more than 4,400 participants, those who used marijuana at least once per week experienced reduced depressive moods, greater positive attitudes and less complaints than those not using marijuana at all. Moreover, those who used it more frequently, such as every day, experienced these results in even greater intensity than those who used marijuana less frequently.

A University at Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions study conducted in February of 2015 found medical marijuana a potentially effective treatment for depression associated with chronic stress. This study concentrated on a certain class of brain chemicals called endocannabinoids similar to chemicals contained in marijuana called cannabinoids. The body relies on cannabinoids as neurotransmitters to trigger numerous biological functions that help to regulate homeostasis, or balance, in the body, from behavior to emotions to cognition to motor control. Some types of stress, including those associated with depression, are caused or aggravated by a lack of this homeostatic balance in the human biosystem. By supplementing a shortage of endocannabinoids in the body with cannabinoids from medical cannabis, you can potentially restore that balance, help regulate those natural functions and relieve the stress and depression caused by the body’s inability to otherwise do so.

How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card for Depression in Arizona

With the preceding information in mind, you can get a medical marijuana card for depression in Arizona by finding a doctor willing to provide you a medical marijuana authorization letter based upon your diagnosis or diagnoses and symptoms. One easy way to do this is to use the online services of Affordable Certification. When you contact Affordable Certification, we will pair you with a doctor licensed in the state of Arizona to meet with via teleconference for a consultation and examination. During this appointment, you and the doctor will discuss your depression and any related diagnoses and symptoms, paying particular note to how it impacts your life and how marijuana has helped you manage your condition and symptoms or, if you’re not yet using marijuana for these purposes, how it might help you.

Assuming the doctor finds that you do, indeed, qualify for an Arizona medical marijuana card, he or she will then write you the necessary letter you will need to submit to the Arizona Medical Marijuana Program to obtain your medical card. Once you have your doctor’s letter, simply create a personal profile on the Arizona Department of Health and Safety Medical Marijuana Portal and submit an application for your Arizon medical marijuana card.

All you’ll need beyond this is a state ID or driver’s license showing Arizona as your primary state of residence and your age. While the legal age to obtain a medical card in Arizona without a parent or guardian’s permission is 18 years old, Affordable Certification is for Arizona residents 21 years of age or older. Affordable Certification recommends anyone younger than that speak with their own primary care doctor to obtain the required authorization.

Once your doctor submits your Arizona medical card application for you, you’ll receive an AZQP number issued by the state to use as a reference and your receipt. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Program will, then, review your application and, if all looks good, approve it within four or five days. At that point, you’ll gain access to your digital medical card, as Arizona doesn’t mail out physical medical marijuana cards anymore. With this digital card in your possession, you are now free to visit any Arizona marijuana dispensary to legally purchase medical marijuana for your depression.

Choosing the Best Medical Marijuana for Your Depression

There are a wide array of marijuana strains, each with its own properties. Most marijuana is categorized as either sativa or indica or a hybrid of the two. Each has slightly different effects on the mind and body. One of the most common and prevalent active ingredients in most forms of marijuana is THC, which is the compound also responsible for the mind-altering effects attributed to marijuana. Different people respond to THC differently, with some people finding it relieves their depression, while other find it aggravating their depression. An alternative to forms of marijuana high in THC, or containing any THC at all, are strains containing predominantly CBD instead. CBD is another common active component of marijuana with valuable therapeutic properties, only with no mind-altering effects. The most common source of CBD is hemp, a form of cannabis containing little-to-no THC. Therefore, to reap the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana without the “high” associated with marijuana, consider hemp oil or other hemp-based cannabis products.

Finding which type best suits you and your therapeutic needs may be largely a matter of trial and error. However, your doctor may be able to help you select the right type of marijuana to help with your depression, as can the clerk assisting you at the medical marijuana dispensary where you go with your new Arizona medical card to procure your medical cannabis.