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Research

How cannabis use among teens is linked to increased risk of depression in adulthood

Recently a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry links the mental illness to cannabis smoking as a teenager. Cannabis is commonly used recreational drug by youngsters worldwide.

Depression affects around one in six adults over their lifetime, and the whole thing from pollution and artificial light to the bacteria living in our gut could be to blame.

But researchers found that cannabis use among youngsters is linked to an increased risk of depression and suicidality in adulthood. Though the individual risk was not very high. But the common use of this drug by youngsters makes the risk level much more serious.

Preceding research has proposed that cannabis moderately increases a person’s risk of developing anxiety or depression. Whereas other studies have found no noteworthy association when they took other variables into consideration. Still, others propose that use of cannabis may, in fact, reduce symptoms.

The consequences of the study are mixed with no clear consent of how cannabis disturbs intellectual health, as far as depression is concerned.

Observations of the study

The research was conducted at the University of Oxford, UK, and McGill University Canada. Researchers of the study have analyzed 11 international studies. They investigated the effects of marijuana use in under-18s and published since the mid-90s.

These researches were selected from 3,142 articles studying associations between drug use in teens and intellectual health in later life. Collective, they involved around 23,000 individuals.

Researchers observed the effects of cannabis as its use among youngsters is very common. But its long-term effects are not completely understood. They selected the best studies conducted since 1993. It included only the operationally sound ones to exclude important puzzling factors, like premorbid depression.

They found that one in every 14 cases of depression in grownups under 35 could be prevented if youths avoided cannabis. Practically, there are 25,000 diagnoses in Canada, 400,000 diagnoses of depression in the US, and 60,000 diagnoses in the UK. Moreover, smoking cannabis before 18 was related to a 350% increased suicidal risk.

The researchers suggest this association may be related to the psychoactive element in marijuana, Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC.

Actually, animal studies have found a correlation between young exposure to THC and the development of depressive disorders in maturity. Possibly it can be due to alteration of the physiological neurodevelopment of young brains.

It’s worth emphasizing that these associations are revealing an interesting correlation but not causation. For instance, cannabis use might not cause depression but a tendency to develop depression raises the possibility a person will take up cannabis in the first place. On the other hand, there may be other factors (possibly genetic or environmental) which correlate to cannabis use and depression.

The final word

Correspondingly, it is also worth mentioning that the studies did not take into reflection participants’ use of other drugs or the amount of cannabis they were consuming. All these factors could be affecting the consequences and the scale of risk in smoking cannabis.

Consequently, though the outcomes suggest on a society-wide scale, the problem is common, the risk for the individual is quite modest.

Researchers propose that these findings of depression and suicidality are very related to clinical practice and public well-being.

Although the adverse effects of cannabis can differ between individual youths and it is impossible to expect the exact risk for each adolescent, the extensive cannabis use among the youngsters makes it a critical public health issue.

There may be a correlation between cannabis use in youth and depression but more investigation is required to confirm and elucidate why accurately this is.

Sophie Abram

Sophie Abram is an author at Top Health Journal. She has a master’s degree in Biochemistry. Evidence-based nutrition is her passion and she loves to devote her career to informing the general public about it. She has extensive experience as a researcher and her research focus is within food reformulation, improving food supply and food environments. Her research examines how nutrition, dietary supplements, and exercise affects human body composition. Twitter- @abram_sophie

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