Cannabis Use in Teens Leads to Anxiety, Depression

Use of cannabis in adolescence has come under increased focus again after a huge study has found links to depression and anxiety disorders in later life, as well as the better-studied links to psychosis.

Researchers from McGill University and the University of Oxford carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of the best existing evidence and analyzed 23,317 individuals (from 11 international studies) to see whether the use of cannabis in young people is associated with depression, anxiety and suicidality in early adulthood.

They found that cannabis use among adolescents is associated with significantly increased risk.

The population attributable risk was found to be around 7%, which translates to more than 400,000 adolescent cases of depression potentially attributable to cannabis exposure in the US, 25,000 in Canada and about 60,000 in the UK.

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Professor Andrea Cipriani, NIHR Research Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, said: “We looked at the effects of cannabis because its use among young people is so common, but the long-term effects are still poorly understood.

“We carefully selected the best studies carried out since 1993 and included only the methodologically sound ones to rule out important confounding factors, such us premorbid depression.”

The active ingredient in cannabis, THC, mediates most of the psychoactive and mood-related effects of cannabis and also has addictive properties.

Preclinical studies in laboratory animals reported an association between pubertal exposure to cannabinoids and adult-onset depressive symptoms.

It is thought that cannabis may alter the physiological neurodevelopment (frontal cortex and limbic system) of adolescent brains.

Recovering Man Founder Richard Joy said: “Having smoked heavy amounts of weed during a troubling childhood, these studies are echoing what myself and many other unfortunate young men have learned down the years – cannabis is very dangerous when smoked in one’s teens.

“The aftereffects include panic disorder, anxiety issues, depression and even psychosis, but the picture isn’t all bleak, men can and do recover when following a highly disciplined routine within a busy, challenging and supportive social and spiritual structure.”

Read more: How to Find Your Purpose in Life

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