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Some people wonder, “does marijuana cause depression?” I have yet to find a good, solid site with answers on this topic, so I thought I would delve in.
Is marijuana a depressant?
First, is marijuana a depressant? Yes. Marijuana is classified as a depressant drug. However, what does that mean, exactly? A depressant slows down the rate that your nerves send signals to each other and so it decreases activity in various parts of the brain. Alcohol and the opioids are also depressants. Read more about marijuana as a depressant here. (continued…)
Do depressants cause depression?
The word “depression” is overloaded. By that, I mean that it stands for too many things. However, from the research we have at the moment, it seems like we do not have enough research to conclude that depressants cause depression. In other words, they probably don’t. (continued…)
One of most people’s favorite depressants is alcohol. They did a study, reported in Time magazine, which showed that there is seemingly no link between depression and alcohol. So, if that is true, there is no reason to believe that depressants actually cause depression. I mean, from the name “depressant,” you would think they would, but not necessarily. (continued…)
Ok. So, does marijuana cause depression anyway?
So far, we have established that marijuana is a depressant just like alcohol and the good old opioids. But does it cause depression?
At this point in time, there is no compelling research to suggest that it does. There is research that shows a correlation between marijuana use and depression. A correlation in this case means that people who smoke more marijuana tend to also be more depressed. However, it does NOT imply a causal link.
What does that mean? It means that one explanation is that marijuana causes depression. However, another, equally plausible, explanation is that people who are depressed turn to marijuana use to self-medicate. (continued…)
So I can’t give you a straight answer because there isn’t one. Unfortunately, not enough research has been done into marijuana yet although as it becomes legalized in more areas, this may change.
Does marijuana cause schizophrenia?
This is actually kind of scary. Because the answer is that studies have shown marijuana can cause schizophrenia in some people.
The way many researchers believe schizophrenia “works” is that a person has a genetic tendency to be schizophrenic and then there is some sort of “stress” in the environment that turns this tendency on. An analogy would be a light switch. Some people have the switch and others simply do not. For those who have a tendency to become schizophrenic, marijuana can activate the schizophrenia. And that is really tragic because schizophrenia is a very difficult illness to live with.
What I would suggest is that if you have a family history of schizophrenia — if anyone in the family has it at all or if you are not sure — stay away from marijuana. It’s not worth it. By the way, there is a book scheduled to be released on this topic in September 2017. It looks interesting and is called “The Complex Connection between Cannabis and Schizophrenia” by Michael Compton and Marc Manseau
Does marijuana cause depression? So, although marijuana is a drug classified as a depressant, it likely does not actually cause depression. However, in people who are prone to schizophrenia, it can cause schizophrenia, which is very serious and a good reason to avoid marijuana (if you have a family history of schizophrenia). Does marijuana cause depression? There is currently no research that suggests that it does although there is research that shows a correlation between people who are depressed and those who take marijuana. I suspect that correlation is mainly because people who are depressed are more likely to take marijuana because it makes them feel better. However, that remains to be proven by future research. (continued…)
Anecdotally, from speaking to people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety, I have heard that marijuana can bring some relief, but it is sadly temporary. I have heard that high doses of marijuana can cause an increase in anxiety and paranoia. One person I know who suffers from panic attacks gets much worse from taking marijuana. Another person I know who suffers from severe clinical depression and visits a Toronto dispensary finds that her suicidal thoughts simply go away when she takes marijuana. Those are just a few anecdotes. It’s not scientific, but it gives you an idea of the broad range of experience that people have with this drug.
To me, the biggest risk by far of taking this drug is if you have a family history of schizophrenia.
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