Marijuana, Mood Disorder and Self-Harm: A Troubling Connection
Monday, June 28, 2021
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Substance misuse prevention experts in Ohio are raising the alarm about the dangers associated with marijuana use among teens with mood disorder.
According to research from the Ohio State University College of Medicine, adolescents and young adults with mood disorder who use marijuana are at a significantly higher risk of self-harm, suicide and overall mortality.
Bobby Persinger, deputy executive director of the Prevention Action Alliance, contended much more awareness is needed about the effects of marijuana.
"A lot of people are under the impression that marijuana use or cannabis use is harmless," said Persinger. "It is not harmless. There are risks associated with cannabis use disorder, especially in young people and those who experience some sort of mental health diagnosis."
The study found the risk for self-harm was three times higher, all-cause mortality was 59% higher, unintentional overdose was more than two times higher, and homicide was more than three times higher.
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology, teenage marijuana use is at its highest level in three decades.
But pro-cannabis organization NORML argues that other research shows no measurable difference in adolescent marijuana use over the past two decades.
Persinger said marijuana slows down the brain's processing, impacting basic functioning.
"It slows your thinking capabilities, it slows your reaction time," said Persinger. "If you already have a chemical imbalance because you have a diagnosis of depression, cannabis is going to further deter healthy and happy and safe decision making processes. "
Persinger noted that cannabis use could worsen the symptoms of mood disorder among teens, or interfere with treatments.
"We always talk about those moody teenagers, but when we're talking about mood disorders those are clinically diagnosable conditions," said Persinger. "Most commonly you think about things like depression or anxiety."
Research on medical marijuana use in the field of psychiatry is evolving, and there are indications it is beneficial in treating anxiety, PTSD and insomnia.
The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine 1/1/17
Medicinal cannabis for psychiatric disorders: a clinically-focused systematic review BMC Psychiatry 1/16/20
Marijuana and Teens the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychology 10/1/19
Marijuana Regulation and Teen Use Rates website the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORMAL) 5/1/21
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