Marijuana and Mental Health | Does Marijuana Affect Mental Health?

Marijuana is a widely discussed and debated substance in the U.S. There are people on both sides of the argument regarding marijuana. There are people who believe marijuana is a harmless drug, as well as people who believe it should be legal recreationally throughout the country. There are others who feel marijuana is harmful and should remain illegal. There are also people who may think marijuana should be regulated, but that it has possible medicinal benefits.

Regardless of where you fall in the marijuana debate, it is important to understand that there are effects of this drug and that these can be adverse in some cases.

One question people have is “does marijuana affect mental health?” The relationship between marijuana and mental health is a complex one.

Marijuana and Mental Health | Does Marijuana Affect Mental Health?
Marijuana is a substance that’s widely used throughout the U.S. and the world, and it’s particularly popular among young people, although people from all age groups report using it.

Unfortunately, there is a misconception that marijuana use is harmless, and this isn’t always the case. Some people even believe that it’s good for them, but there are risks associated with the use of marijuana that need to be understood.

Marijuana contains psychoactive chemicals, and anytime something is affecting your brain, even in the short-term, it can have lasting effects on mental health.

When someone uses cannabis, certain compounds bind to receptors in the brain. With marijuana, there’s a lot of variation in the makeup and potency of the drug, and since it’s illegal in most places, there’s very little regulation.

When someone smokes marijuana, it quickly enters their bloodstream and then crosses the blood-brain barrier, and the person feels high. The high from marijuana can range from feeling very relaxed to feeling panicked or highly anxious.

At higher amounts, the risk of having a negative experience are even higher, and people can have symptoms like paranoia and hallucinations.

Does marijuana affect mental health? In short, yes, it can, but it depends on some different factors.

There have been studies linking marijuana and mental health in a variety of ways, including an increased risk of psychosis, anxiety, and depression. Another possible concern is an increased risk of developing a substance use disorder because of using marijuana.

Research from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions looked at the relationship between marijuana and mental health disorders related to mood and anxiety disorders and found the highest risk was for an increased chance of developing a substance use disorder.

There is an increasing amount of evidence showing there are some very real concerns to be aware of when looking at marijuana and mental health, particularly in younger people, long-term users and people who have a predisposition for mental health disorders.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that marijuana can cause mental health problems, but it does mean that it could heighten some symptoms of mental health disorders.

If you’re someone with a genetic predisposition for mental health disorders, in particular, the ones below, it’s really important to be cautious with the use of marijuana.

  • Depression: Many people feel that marijuana and mental health conditions go hand-in-hand, particularly depression and this may be true for some people. While some people use marijuana as a way to self-medicate and eases symptoms of depression, it may actually make it worse. Also, young people who use marijuana during adolescence have been shown to be more likely to develop depression later in their life.
  • Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia: There are no links right now showing in terms of marijuana and mental health that the drug can cause bipolar or schizophrenia. What we do know is that it can highlight symptoms of these existing disorders, and young people who use large amounts of it may be more at risk for developing these mental health problems later in their life because of the changes to their neural pathways. There’s also the risk of an acute cannabis psychosis, which can include delusions and hallucinations, although this usually goes away within a few hours.
  • Anxiety: So many people rely on marijuana as a way to help them cope with anxiety, but it can make the symptoms worse. This is true when you’re using it, but also when you withdraw from it.
When answering the question does marijuana affect mental health, there are a few individual factors to keep in mind because they can play a significant role. The first is the age someone started using marijuana. When adolescents or teens use marijuana, it impacts their brain significantly when neural connections are developing, as well as white matter.

Also important is how heavily you use marijuana, including how often, and how much, as well as the overall length of time you’ve used it in your life.

The more THC you’re exposed to over time, the more likely it is that the drug will play a role in how your emotions are regulated, which can mean marijuana affects your mental health.

While there is little research that shows marijuana and mental health problems can be linked to one another, there are other theories as well. For example, regarding marijuana and depression, some researchers believe that the use of marijuana can lead to antisocial behaviors or lead to social withdrawal and that can contribute to depression.

Regardless, it’s important to exercise caution when using any drug because it can change the chemical makeup of your brain in a way that may leave you more vulnerable to mental health issues.

Does marijuana affect mental health? Possibly, and as more research is done, more may come to light showing the potentially negative effects of marijuana on mental health.

Marijuana and Mental Health | Does Marijuana Affect Mental Health?
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