Cannabis Use Grows Faster Among Depressed Americans: Latest Study
according to Reuters Health, regular cannabis use increases faster among people with depression and they are less likely to perceive it as risky compared to people who are not depressed, suggests a new American study.
New research suggests that people with depression are about twice as likely to use cannabis as people who do not. A study by scientists at the universities of North Carolina and New York.
The researchers looked at data collected from a total of nearly 729000 people aged 12 and over between 2005 and 2017, including any cannabis use in the previous month and any depression experienced in the previous year.
In the final year of the study, about 19% of people with depression reported at least some cannabis use, compared to 8,7% of people without a recent history of depression. In 2005, about 10,2% of people with depression and 5,7% of people without depression used the drug.
The proportion of people with depression who perceived cannabis use as a risky behavior also fell from 41% to 17% during the study period, compared to a drop from 52% to 33% among those without depression, according to the journal report Addiction.
"This perception of risk decreases more quickly in people with depression," said Renee Goodwin of Columbia University in New York, lead author of the study.
“People with depression who perceive little or no risk associated with use have a much higher prevalence of cannabis use, compared to those who perceive associated higher risks,” Goodwin said via email.
The study found that current cannabis use was highest among people aged 18 to 25 with depression, at almost 30%. Use was also common among people with depression, men, blacks or single, at about 23% for each group.
One of the limitations of the study is that the researchers relied on the study participants to truthfully report any cannabis use or symptoms of depression; they did not have laboratory tests for drug use or medical records to confirm a mental health diagnosis.
Researchers were also unable to explain whether the legalization of cannabis may have had an impact on the proportion of people who used the drug or on how participants thought about its safety, the study team notes.
"Some believe that drug use is a form of self-medication for depression or an attempt to self-medicate depressive symptoms," Goodwin said.
During the study period, most states in the United States legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes, or both, and it is also possible that this helped reduce the perception of risk, Goodwin added. .
“There is anecdotal evidence that some people perceive cannabis as less risky than psychiatric drugs and with legalization (cannabis) may be cheaper and more available and associated with less stigma,” said Goodwin.
However, people need to understand that cannabis can actually be more risky for people with depression.
“There is no evidence to suggest that cannabis use will alleviate symptoms of depression except temporarily, and there is some evidence to suggest that cannabis use can worsen or prolong depression,” Goodwin said. “Historically, patients in treatment / recovery from depression have been advised to avoid cannabis use.”
According to Reuters, the study was not designed to determine if depression could influence how often people use cannabis, or if there is a risk of regular cannabis use.