Is Marijuana Helpful or Harmful To Your Mental Health?

Using Marijuana to Manage Mental Health Symptoms

A significant number of HealthyPlace community members use marijuana to manage their mental health symptoms. We know this because whenever we post a story on the subject, a large and vocal crowd comments on how marijuana has helped them. However, they are not alone. There is growing evidence that people with serious mental illness, including depression and psychosis, are more likely to use marijuana or have used it for long periods of time in the past. But what does the research say about the connection between marijuana and mental health?

Marijuana and Mental Health: The Research

Is Marijuana Helpful or Harmful To Your Mental HealthIn the National Comorbidity Study, 51 percent of those who met criteria for a substance disorder at some time in their life also met criteria for a mental disorder at some point. In the large majority of cases, individuals reported that the mental disorder preceded the substance disorder (Kessler et al. 1996). Other studies suggest a clear link between early (adolescent) marijuana use and later mental health problems, especially in those with a genetic history of mental illness. Regular use of marijuana appears to double the risk of developing a psychotic episode or long-term schizophrenia (Arseneault et al., 2002; Parakh & Basu, 2013). For that reason, those people who have a family history of bipolar disorder or schizophrenia should not be using marijuana.

As for whether or not marijuana causes depression and anxiety, the causal effect is unclear. What is known is that while marijuana may ease depression, when the effects of the drug wear off, the depression may be worse. (Marijuana and Depression: A Depressant or Treatment?) Those who use marijuana experience higher levels of depression and depressive symptoms than those who do not use it (Lev-Ran et al., 2013; Pacek et al., 2013).

When it comes to marijuana and anxiety, again, the research results are mixed. Some research suggests that frequent or heavy marijuana use in adolescence can lead to an anxiety disorder in young adulthood (Degenhardt et al., 2013) and this may be especially true for young women.

So Is Marijuana Good or Bad For Your Mental Health?

The research shows the risk of negative mental health consequences are linked to the age you start smoking marijuana, whether or not you smoke heavily, and your family history of mental illness. In addition to developing mental health problems, regular marijuana use can lead to more general life problems, like conflict at home or school or work, financial problems and memory problems.

If, after smoking marijuana, you seem to be more depressed or anxious or if you are having suicidal thoughts, marijuana is probably not safe for you. Mental health professionals advise that you pay attention to your body and emotional responses and if you have an existing mental health issue, marijuana should be avoided.

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Your Thoughts

Today’s Question: Do you use, or would you consider using, marijuana to manage your mental health symptoms? We invite you to participate by commenting and sharing your feelings, experiences and knowledge on the HealthyPlace Facebook page.

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Above article courtesy of :
HealthyPlace.com – America’s Mental Health Channel
“When you’re at HealthyPlace.com, you’re never alone.”
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