Adolescent Cannabis Users at Increased Risk for Depression

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 14, 2019

Researchers estimate seven per cent of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 30 are diagnosed with depression that could be linked to prior cannabis use, or roughly 25,000 young people.

About 7% of cases of adult depression may possibly not occur if teenagers stopped smoking cannabis, they found.

The study consisted of a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies comprising 23,317 individuals.

In England, about 4% of adolescents aged 11 to 15 years old in England are estimated to have used the drug within the last month.

"Since we had legalization, young people continue to smoke as before", says Gobbi.

"We know from studies of psychosis that the risk is much greater with daily use of modern, high-potency ... cannabis than old-fashioned ... varieties".

It is thought that cannabis may alter the development of parts of adolescent brains.

The findings also dispel misconceptions that weekly pot use is harmless, she adds, noting that scientists found it impossible to differentiate degree of risk between weekly use and daily use.

Professor Sir Robin Murray, a psychiatry researcher at King's College London, said that although the modest risk increase found in the USA study was probably real, better-quality studies had found cannabis use increased the risk of schizophrenia-like psychosis more than the risk of depression or anxiety.

Dr Lindsey Hines, of the University of Bristol, said it was already known that using cannabis coincided with anxiety, depression and self-harm in teenagers.

She also notes the subjects were teens during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, when the amount of THC content was generally relatively low.

The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, does not state how much cannabis the research participants smoked, which is considered a significant omission.

"Among young adults worldwide, depression is the leading cause of disability, and suicide is the most common cause of death", said Joseph Firth, a specialist at Australia's Western Sydney University.

Tens of thousands of cases of depression are likely to be the result of cannabis use among the under-18s and children should be warned of the dangers of the drug, researchers said.

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