Mood Disorders and Medical Marijuana

mood disorders and medical marijuana

​Explore the usefulness of medical marijuana for the treatment of Mood Disorders mental illness

While past studies have linked marijuana use to a higher risk of anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, psychosis, and substance abuse disorders, other studies have been unable to repeat the findings. Recently, in what is believed to be the first national study to look at any potential link between marijuana use and the incidence of anxiety, mood, and substance use disorders, researchers were unable to find any link between anxiety or mood disorders and marijuana use.

Published in the February 2016 issue of JAMA Psychiatry, the study was led by Dr. Mark Olfson, of the Columbia University Medical Center and New York State Psychiatric Institute. The study, which included a nationally representative sample of 34,653 respondents, found no links between anxiety or mood disorders and marijuana use.

According to Dr. Olfson and his team, the discrepancies between past studies and this recent study could possibly be explained by a variety of factors, such as geographic location, males vs. females, age groups, or the type and number of mental disorders examined.

Studies into the possible benefits or risks associated with marijuana use have been prompted by the increasing number of US states choosing to legalize marijuana use for medical and recreational use.

On a positive note, one recent study indicated cannabidiol (CBD), a compound found in cannabis, may reduce seizures, while a 2015 study suggested that CBD could help bones heal.

However, other studies are not as positive about marijuana’s effects. One study indicated that teen marijuana users are at risk of developing schizophrenia, while a different study asserted that high potency marijuana can damage crucial structures in the brain.

THE LINK BETWEEN MARIJUANA USE AND THE RISK OF DRUG AND ALCOHOL DISORDERS

In an effort to further look at how marijuana use can impact the risk of mental health and substance abuse disorders in the general population, researchers in this recent study utilized a nationally representative sample of US adults. This involved 34,653 adults who were interviewed over a three year interval as part of the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.

​ At the three year follow-up,results indicated that the use of marijuana was associated with a higher risk of drug and alcohol use. It was also linked to an increased risk of nicotine dependence. However, there was no link found between the use of marijuana and an increased risk of anxiety or mood disorders.

​ Researchers were quick to warn that although the study does not indicate a causal link between the use of marijuana and new mental conditions, “these adverse psychiatric outcomes should be taken under careful consideration in clinical care and policy planning.”

Researchers continued:
“From a perspective of prevention, the lack of association between more frequent cannabis use with increased risk of most mood and anxiety disorders does not diminish the important public health significance of the association between cannabis use and increased prevalence and incidence of drug and alcohol use disorders (including nicotine dependence).”

Additionally, researchers pointed out that the consumption of alcohol and smoking are the third and first leading causes of preventable death. This is why they continue to advise caution, despite their findings.

STUDY LIMITATIONS
​ While it important to point out that the results of the survey are strong due to the large, nationally representative sample, the authors did admit to a few limits.

​ First, as a result of the possibility of residual confounding, the study is unable to craft a causal link between cannabis use and new onset of disorders. In addition, due to a follow-up period of only 3 years, there is the possibility that a longer follow-up period could reveal different patterns of prevalence.

​ It’s also worth noting that the use of cannabis was self-reported only, which is another limitation. Finally, researchers only included the most prevalent mental disorders, meaning they did not assess a number of disorders.

​ Regardless, it’s impossible to deny that their findings are significant.

Benefits of Medical Marijuana Mood Disorders and Medical Marijuana

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