Marijuana & Mental Health: The Blunt Truth – Blog – Part 1
We’ve all heard that mental health issues are on the rise, especially in teenagers and young adults. What we don’t talk about though, is how rising marijuana usage contributes to these mental health problems especially in youth. You may think that marijuana is the only way to ease those feelings of anxiety, depression, or other mental illnesses but the blunt truth is, marijuana causes far more harm than good to a person’s mental health. In this article we’ll explain how marijuana usage affects mental health, especially to teen’s whose brains are still developing.
1. THC's Chemical Structure
THC is the chemical in marijuana that is responsible for getting you high. THC is also the addictive component. Many people use marijuana thinking that it will help them control or reduce their anxiety, depression, or stress. However, our brain produces its own natural chemical called anandamide that helps us when feeling anxious, depressed, or scared. We need anandamide to calm us down. What many marijuana users are unaware of is the canceling effect that THC has on our brain’s natural chemical. When you smoke, ingest, or use any form of marijuana with THC your brain thinks you are receiving way too much anandamide and therefore stops producing it. Once the high wears off, you end up experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression, and this can last for weeks. So, unlike common beliefs, using THC actually INCREASES these commonly experienced mental health problems.
2. Marijuana Dependency
Due to the increasing levels of THC in marijuana, the drug has become more addictive than ever. Those who are dependent on marijuana (used more than twice a week) experienced much higher rates of mental health disorders. Issues like mood disorders, social phobia, mania, anxiety, etc. were all at higher rates than they were before in marijuana dependent users compared to the general population (National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions). Those who use marijuana regularly often lose their urge to participate in social gatherings, or even leave the comfort of their home. This is just one common example of marijuana usage affecting one’s mental health.
3. Effects on Mental Health
Another disturbing effect of marijuana is that as potency and THC levels increase, so do instances of suicide. The scary part is youth who are using marijuana regularly are seven times more likely to attempt suicide (Lancet Psychiatry Journal). Many youths share that the thought of suicide would have never crossed their minds prior to their usage of marijuana. This goes to show just how big an affect marijuana has on the brain, especially in youth.
It’s a scary truth that has become a reality. So, if you’re thinking about using marijuana to manage your mental health or know anybody who might be, I encourage you to consider other safer options that won’t increase the feelings you’re already experiencing. I also encourage you to keep this information and share it with others! You never know what those around you may be struggling with.
Look for future articles about how marijuana affects your mental health. You can also check out Omni Youth Programs Youtube videos "Let’s Talk Pot Part 1: How Much Does Marijuana Help or Hurt?" and Lets Talk Pot Part 2: How does my young brain react to marijuana? to learn more about how marijuana can affect you.
Also follow us on social media where we share youth marijuana and alcohol prevention tips and up to date information!