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Can marijuana make a psychological sickness worse?

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Marijuana use has many scientifically proven health benefits. These can be as simple as helping users relax, or as complex as treating chronic pain or appetite stimulation. We don’t know much about marijuana, especially when we talk about its negative side effects. Aside from red eyes and the occasional bout of paranoia, can using the plant worsen conditions such as mental illness?

There isn’t a lot of evidence or scientific research, but some studies have found links between marijuana use and some mental illnesses, such as depression and even psychosis.

Studies have shown that people who smoke large amounts of marijuana every day are five times more likely than others to develop psychosis, affecting the age at which marijuana is first used and the individual’s genetic vulnerabilities.

While these studies aren’t very useful for regular marijuana users, they show a link between marijuana use and mental illness, although the existing link does not imply that one is causing the other. While marijuana can cause hallucinations and paranoia sporadically, these effects go away once the drug wears off.

Photo by kilarov zaneit via Unsplash

According to a Washington State University survey, people who use marijuana to treat their chronic pain are at higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. The survey contacted 150 adults who used marijuana to treat their chronic condition and asked them about their experiences.

RELATED: Study Links Daily Marijuana Use to Risk of Psychosis

“When people suffer from depression and anxiety and also use cannabis, they seem to get more negative results,” said lead investigator Marian Wilson. “Is it that they use cannabis more because the pain is so bad and their mood is affected, or because people with depression and anxiety are at greater risk of using cannabis in ways that may not be therapeutic?”

RELATED: Depression attracts frequent marijuana users and can make symptoms worse

More research is needed to paint a clearer picture. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that people with depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are more likely to use marijuana. “Some people with depression can use marijuana to help ease their depressive symptoms,” said Dr. Daniel K. Hall-Flavin across from the Mayo Clinic. “Heavy users may appear depressed because of the drug’s dull effect on feelings and emotions.”

Marijuana and mental health appear to be linked, with the relationship being positive or negative depending on the user, genes, and regularity of use. Still, the occasional or regular use of marijuana is unlikely to aggravate a disease that is treated and cared for by psychologists.

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Beth Edmonds