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Is there a link between marijuana and depression? Yes, according to Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, MD, but it’s not a causal relationship.
According to the doctor, more marijuana smokers are diagnosed with depression more often than are nonsmokers, especially heavy pot smokers. But it doesn’t appear that it’s the marijuana causing the depression. Instead, it is likely that the smoker is self-medicating with marijuana to treat the depression.
Or it could be that other factors like genetic and environmental trigger depression and make marijuana use attractive simultaneously but not in relation to one another. Poverty and inner city stress may lead to the use of marijuana as an escape. Independently, those conditions may also lead to depression stemming from a sense of hopelessness.
There are relationships between marijuana and specific types of mental illness, not just depression. For instance, marijuana use may trigger schizophrenia or psychosis in some people. There is also some evidence which shows that young people who smoke marijuana are most likely to attempt suicide. More research is needed to understand the relationship, if any.
Dr. Hall-Flavin states that the bottomline is that depression and marijuana, for whatever reason, appear together more often than by chance. While there is no clear evidence that marijuana causes depression, there is a relationship that needs to be studied.
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