Tagged with: depression Teen Health
It is a bad combination; that is the message from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy as it issued a warning regarding depression in teens and marijuana use.
Teenagers who “self-medicate” their symptoms of depression run the risk of actually deteriorating the underlying mental health disorder. Several studies have been conducted that seem to indicate that there is a link between symptoms of depression in teens and marijuana use. One problem in getting depressed teenagers to see the link between marijuana use and symptoms of depression is that teenagers are likely to report that marijuana use “relieves” their depression or that it helps them cope.
The report, Teen Marijuana Use Worsens Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows “Self-Medicating” Could Actually Make things Worse, presented by the Office of National Drug Control Policy explains that marijuana use can “’worsen depression,’ and that marijuana use by teens could result in a diagnosis of other mental health disorders, including schizophrenia, anxiety and even suicide.” John Waters, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, stated “Adolescent marijuana use may be a factor that triggers psychosis, depression and other mental illness.” The more frequently that a teenager uses marijuana, the greater the risk of becoming depressed.
The report points to research that shows that teenagers who have been depressed within the past year are twice as likely to have used marijuana as teenagers who report not being depressed. The National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine similarly reported results of a study of 1,601 teenagers, ages 14 and 15, who attended 44 schools in the Australian State of Victoria. The study was conducted with the objective of being to determine “whether cannabis use in adolescence predisposes to higher rates of depression and anxiety in young adulthood.” Study subjects were followed for seven years.
At the end of the study period, 60 percent of the teens had used marijuana by age 20 and 7 percent were using it daily. Daily use of marijuana among the females in the study was associated with “an over fivefold increase in the odds of reporting a state of depression and anxiety…” Weekly use of marijuana by the teens was linked to a “twofold increase” in the likelihood for developing later symptoms of depression.
The conclusion of the study, “Cannabis use and mental health in young people: cohort study” was that frequent marijuana use in teen girls was a predictor of later depression and anxiety, and that the risk increased with daily marijuana users. It was suggested that “measures to reduce frequent and heavy recreational use seem warranted.” It is interesting to note that although the study subjects were described as 14 and 15-year-old teens, that study results overwhelmingly addressed teen girls, giving no mention of boys at all in the study abstract.
In a story by U.S. News & World Report, Oscar Bukstein, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, was quoted as saying that 1 in 10 young people who develop marijuana dependency have psychotic symptoms. There is evidence that suggests teens that have attempted suicide are more likely to have used marijuana than teens who have not attempted suicide.
Not all experts agree
While several studies, conducted by governmental agencies and other professional researchers point to a significant link between marijuana use and depression in teenagers, other professionals seem to question such results. When Dr. Daniel,K. Hall-Flavin was asked if marijuana causes depression, the Mayo Clinic doctor replied that while evidence seems to show that marijuana users seem to be diagnosed with depression more often than non-marijuana users, “it doesn’t appear that marijuana directly causes depression.” Dr Hall-Flavin does admit that teenagers “who attempt suicide may be more likely to have used marijuana than those who have not made an attempt.” Dr. Hall-Flavin says that more research is needed to better understand the association between marijuana and depression.
Where to go from here
While experts offer significant evidence and teen depression statistics supporting a link between increased rates of depression in teens who use marijuana, some experts think more research is needed. Then there are the teens who claim their marijuana smoking helps them to cope, feel better or “deal” with their problems.
For more details please visit: Sovereign Health Group Adolescent Program