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Adolescent cannabis users face increased risk of depression and anxiety in early adulthood, says study
Feb 22 2019

Adolescent cannabis users face increased risk of depression and anxiety in early adulthood, says study


Researchers at the University of Oxford and McGill University recently conducted a study to establish a connection between adolescents using cannabis and traces of increased anxiety and depression in them during young adulthood. The group of researchers carried out a meta-analysis and systematic review of the best available evidence by analyzing around 23,317 adolescents to figure out if the usage of cannabis in teen years was associated with the development of anxiety, depression, and suicidal tendencies later in life.

During their study, the researchers found that adolescents using cannabis were at an increased risk of developing suicidal tendencies and depression. Although the level of individual risk was found to be relatively modest, the research indicated that extensive usage of cannabis in young teens escalated the risk by manifold.

As per the statistics presented by the researchers, the risk of developing depression in teens, who were cannabis users, was around 7 percent. This meant that more than 400,000 adolescent and teen cases of depression could potentially be attributed to the usage of cannabis in the United States, 25,000 in Canada, and around 60,000 in United Kingdom.

Gap between cannabis use and mood regulation studied

According to Dr. Gabriella Gobbi, while the link between mood regulation and cannabis has been studied in depth as part of preclinical studies, there was still a gap regarding the systematic evaluation of the connection between adolescent cannabis consumption and the risk of depression and suicidal behavior in young teens. A scientist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Center and a professor at the Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Dr. Gobbi said that the aim of this research was to address the aforementioned gap and help mental health professionals and the parents of teens address this issue in a better and more effective manner.

The researchers specifically observed the effects of teen drug use addiction, said Andrea Cipriani, a research professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford. Though the researchers were careful while selecting the best studies carried out since 1993 and took care to include only the methodologically reliable and complete studies in order to control for factors, such as premorbid depression, not much is still known about the long term effects of cannabis use in adolescents, she added.

Relationship between cannabis and teen depression

The researchers stated that their findings about suicidal tendencies and depression in teens were quite relevant from the public health and clinical practice perspective. Since the size of the negative impact of cannabis on adolescents may vary between individuals, it was not feasible to exactly predict the kind of risk for each teenager. However, considering the widespread use of cannabis among adolescents, it is definitely an important public health issue.

Adolescents, who use cannabis on a regular basis, usually display poor performance at school, show signs of neuropsychological decline and mental disorders, addiction, respiratory problems associated with smoking, and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes. It is believed that cannabis may alter the physiological neurodevelopment of adolescent brains.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active ingredient in cannabis, facilitates most of the mood-related and psychoactive effects of the drug. It also has addictive properties. Preclinical studies carried out on laboratory animals indicated a connection between pubertal exposure to cannabinoids and the onset of adult depressive symptoms.

Even though the objective of this study was to look at the possible effects of cannabis usage in adolescents only, it was not practically possible to predict the risk at an individual level. Apart from this, it was also not possible to discern information pertaining to the dose-dependent risk associated with the use of cannabis.

Seeking help for teen drug addiction

Considering the fact that a lot of adolescents are getting drawn to cannabis, parents and guardians need to closely observe the behavior of their adolescents and teens to detect any early signs of depression, anxiety or suicidal ideation in them.

In case you know a teen in need of specialized teen drug addiction treatment, get in touch with ADEONA Healthcare. ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego is the leading teen drug addiction treatment provider for adolescents in the age group of 12-17. The facility offers evidence-based treatment approaches for both addiction and mental disorders. Call our 24/7 helpline (888) 997-3966 or chat online with our admission counselor to get more information about the marijuana addiction treatments offered at our facility.