Smoking weed can cause anxiety and sometimes even panic. Generally, mood returns to normal as the effects wear off. However, sometimes the general mood remains hazy. Or psychotic symptoms aggravate those affected by more than just consumption. Could Smoking Weed Cause Mental Illness?
Cannabis can spoil feelings and thoughts. The spectrum of effects of cannabis intoxication can be imparted by symptoms that are also found in mental illness, including fear, feelings of panic, depressive moods and confusion. In fact, research suggests a link between high cannabis use and mental illnesses such as anxiety disorders and depression.
In the United States in 2016, about 13% of adolescents suffered from a depressive illness. Almost one in four young people smoked cannabis. Compared to healthy adolescents, cannabis use was twice as common among the mentally ill.
Researcher Eva Hoh and her team recently reviewed over 2,000 studies on the potential and risks of cannabis. As a result, the research team has also assessed cannabis as a risk factor for mental illness. Depending on the intensity of consumption, the risk of depression and anxiety disorders increases by 1.3–1.7 times. Those who start smoking weed early and use it frequently are at even greater risk. The risk of developing schizophrenia increases two to three times with heavy use.
Does cannabis cause mental health problems?
However, the statistical correlation says nothing about whether cannabis use causes mental illness. The clue comes from long-term studies, in which people are examined several times over a long period of time. In this way, it is possible to check whether cannabis use was present before the onset of the mental disorder. Only then could consumption be a potential cause. At the same time, the influence of other factors, such as gender, use of psychoactive substances in the family or social environment, should be considered.
One such long-term study was conducted in the United States from 2001 to 2005. About 35,000 people were interrogated several times over three years. The results show that the risk of anxiety disorder or any other mood disorder is not significantly increased with previous cannabis use. However, among cannabis users, addiction was about six times more likely.
Thus, the results of the study show that cannabis use is closely associated with the development of addiction, but is unlikely to be the cause of anxiety disorders or depression. So there must be another explanation for the close link between cannabis use and mental illness.
Impact of genes on cannabis use and schizophrenia.
Our genetic predisposition plays a possible role in the development of mental illness. Research shows that regular marijuana smoking is more likely to cause depression symptoms if a person is genetically predisposed to it. The onset of psychotic symptoms in cannabis poisoning also appears to be dependent on certain genes.
An international research team led by Jacqueline Vink analyzed the relationship between genes, cannabis use and mental illness in a large-scale study. The research team had data on both cannabis use and the genomes of more than 180,000 people.
Based on this massive amount of data, scientists were able to show that people with a genetically related increased risk of schizophrenia are more likely to use cannabis. Genes not only have a strong influence on the development of schizophrenic diseases, but also explain why some people choose cannabis. Conversely, there was no evidence that cannabis use causes schizophrenia.
Affected persons should refrain from using cannabis.
However, smoking marijuana can harm mental health. For example, cannabis has an adverse effect on the course of mental illness. It has been observed that people with psychosis who quit cannabis use have a greater improvement in psychotic symptoms than those who continue to smoke weed. Cannabis users are also less likely to stick to their medication regimen, which also has a negative impact on recovery.
Studies of other clinical pictures provide partially conflicting results, but overall, the course of the disease seems to worsen even with anxiety and depression due to smoking weed. On the other hand, mental illness is improved by avoiding cannabis use.
Research shows that there is a link between cannabis use and mental illness. In particular, early use and frequent smoking weed can increase the risk of mental illness. The link between cannabis use and psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia seems particularly strong.
However, it has not yet been established whether cannabis is a possible cause. Recent research suggests that an increased genetic risk for schizophrenia is associated with an increased likelihood of using cannabis. Thus, cannabis use may not be the cause of the disease, but rather a consequence of a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.
Cannabis use can still be harmful to mental health if it has already been impaired. Smoking weed has been shown to negatively affect the course and success of mental health treatments. Anyone with a mental illness, already experiencing symptoms of a psychotic illness, or having family history of schizophrenia should avoid using cannabis.