Does marijuana cause depression?

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.

Does marijuana cause depression

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


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. marijuana is 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 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


  1. I have struggled with depression and anxiety since early teens. Started smoking marijuana when I was 20 and my mental health was in pretty good space (free from depressive or anxious episodes for close to a year) and just liked how it made things more fun and food taste better. Been smoking almost daily for 6 years.

    Depression and anxiety still comes and goes (they have their own cycles), but I’m better at dealing with it now. I find that if I’m very anxious and experiencing a spiral into a negative thought cycle, that smoking marijuana will almost instantly stop my negative thoughts and allow me to re-frame myself and my situation to be more optimistic and positive.

    That being said. There is some anxiety that can accompany smoking pot, for me that entirely revolves around if other people are judging me for “being high”. If I am around people who do not stigmatize marijuana usage then there is never any accompanied anxiety for me personally.

    • I think it is great if you find something that works for you. It seems marijuana works differently for different people. As I mention in my article, some people are triggered to become schizophrenic. For some it decreases depression. For others it can cause problems. Legality is an ongoing issue, but fortunately, the laws are opening up in many places.

      If I were to offer a word of (unsolicited) advice, it would be not to necessarily mention your marijuana usage to those who might judge. It can be relatively easy to figure out what someone’s views on the topic are, and then you can choose to keep this aspect of your life private. I have a feeling that my marijuana activist daughter ( would probably say that other people’s opinions are unimportant and you should just do what works for you. Only she would probably say it with a few curse words in her customarily in your face, honest way. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Is Marijuana a Depressant? Is Weed a Depressant? - Info Counselling

  3. Hey Rachelle, thank you so much for this valuable post. I did not know about the risk marijuana has with causing schizophrenia. However, I was aware of the way it effectively helps with depression. I’m sure many others like me will find this post extremely valuable!
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  4. Hi Rachelle! There isn’t so much article written that I’ve read that talks about Marijuana and Schizophrenia, so thank you for sharing this information. Further studies should be conducted in order to prove that Marijuana causes depression, or not. But based on what I’ve heard mostly from people I know, they said Marijuana helps them when they are depression and feeling anxious.

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