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Cannabis and mental health (PART II)


Expert Pharmacologist
Jul 6, 2021
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Can cannabis increase mania?
There are fewer studies linking marijuana to bipolar disorder, and the authors call their findings preliminary. But several recent papers have demonstrated that cannabis use in adolescence is a risk factor for developing bipolar disorder (BPD) in older age.

A team from Warwick Medical School found that teens who use marijuana at least 2-3 times a week are more likely to later exhibit symptoms of hypomania (a mild form of mania), one of the manifestations of bipolar disorder.

Smokers with BAR, like those with schizophrenia, often justify themselves by saying that pot helps them cope with their most severe symptoms: anxiety, depression. But scientists did not take their word for it and found that patients usually use weed not when they feel bad, but when the mood is already elevated, to increase euphoria. This is precisely the risk of mania.


Moreover, it has been found that people with BAR who abuse marijuana have a higher incidence of suicide attempts. In addition, the disease starts at a younger age than in «teetotalers». This is bad, because bipolar disorder that starts in adolescence is more severe and dangerous than in adults.

What other troubles are associated with cannabis?

There are other mental health disorders that are more common in cannabis users. First of all, these are anxiety and depressive states.

Studies show that regular marijuana smokers are 4-6 times more likely to have depressive episodes. In Australia, 1,600 schoolchildren who used cannabis between the ages of 14 and 15 were followed for seven years. Those who smoked daily during this period of their lives were five times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety as adults. In addition, the active ingredients in cannabis often trigger paranoia: a person feels like he or she is being watched or stalked and wants to do harm.


Who is at risk of developing mental illness from smoking MJ?
  • You have a predisposition to mental disorders.
  • The problem is that you can't know this for sure in advance: schizophrenia usually starts before the age of 25, bipolar disorder - before 35. If you are young and feel great, perhaps you are not healthy, but the disease has not yet had time to manifest itself - and by taking drugs you will "help" it to do so. If you already have people with mental disorders in your family - it is definitely not worth the risk.
  • You have pronounced schizoid character traits (closed-mindedness, vulnerability, extravagance). Marijuana increases not only schizophrenia, but also schizoid disorder - not so severe, but also unpleasant.
  • You started using early (especially before age 16, when the psyche is still forming).
  • You have already experienced a psychotic episode.
  • You use a lot and often. The larger and more regular the doses, the higher the likelihood of psychosis and its further development into schizophrenia.

Is there a link between cannabis and cannabis use?

Hundreds of studies involving tens of thousands of people have been devoted to the relationship between marijuana abuse and schizophrenia, and most have concluded that there is such a link, and a pretty strong one.

One of the largest studies was conducted in Finland: over a period of 15 years, doctors examined 18,000 patients with acute psychosis caused by drugs or alcohol, which over time developed from isolated psychotic episodes into schizophrenia.


46% of patients whose psychosis was induced by cannabis developed some form of schizophrenia within 8 years. This is much more common than patients who abused alcohol or amphetamines.

In most cases, the illness manifested itself in the first three years after the first hospitalization.

Similar conclusions were reached by Danish researchers led by Mikkel Arendt (published in the British Journal of Psychiatry). Of their patients with hashish psychosis, almost a third of them eventually became ill with one of the most severe forms of schizophrenia - paranoid. In this disease, the level of intelligence is preserved, but consciousness is completely taken over by hallucinations and delusions.

Cannabis-dependent adolescents and adolescents with schizophrenia have been found to have similar brain characteristics: hyperactivity of the visual and auditory centers. It is with this feature that symptoms of anxious listening to nonexistent sounds (e.g. voices in the head), frightening intrusive images, and hallucinations are associated.


But correlation does not mean causation: just because cannabis increases the risk of schizophrenia does not mean it causes the disease.

Psychosis - and even more so schizophrenia - is observed in only a relatively small proportion of active marijuana users, so the scientists drew a cautious conclusion: cannabis abuse provokes accelerated development of the disease and stronger and more frequent attacks, provided there is an initial predisposition: cannabis users show symptoms of schizophrenia earlier by an average of 2.7 years.

Schizophrenia itself develops quite slowly. Changes in the psyche can occur for 10-15 years before the first psychotic episode occurs. A drug substance can act as a trigger that starts the active phase of the illness.

Can cannabis treat mental health disorders?

When talking about marijuana and the psyche, we cannot avoid the opposite point of view: that weed can cure.

Almost all drugs in the XIX-XX centuries were used as medicines and produced for this very purpose. Until it became obvious that the side effects were far worse than the disease itself.


In psychiatry, the «hit» was LSD. Several generations of psychiatrists and psychologists have experimented with the effects of psychedelics on their patients, from Carl Gustav Jung in the 1930s to Timothy Leary in the 1960s. Leary, the guru of psychedelics, was scandalously arrested and drug experimentation is banned in most countries. But that doesn't mean they don't exist.

Not so long ago, a book was published about how underground psychiatrists treat patients whom official medicine has deemed hopeless (i.e. resistant to known drugs) with the same LSD, amphetamines and, to a lesser extent, marijuana. It is definitely not worth repeating their methods at home, even if they really help someone: there is a big difference between using a purified substance under the supervision of a doctor and an obscure mixture at your own risk.


There is also a quite legal industry of marijuana production for medical purposes in those countries where it is allowed (for example, in Canada - since 2001).
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cannabis-based products can be used as painkillers, for nausea and loss of appetite. Marinol, for example, is prescribed to cancer patients to improve their poor appetite: these drugs do not get you high, they just contain small doses of purified cannabinoids.

The practice of using marijuana in psychiatry is relatively small, and there are even fewer studies proving its effectiveness. But, as we have already found out, a huge number of patients use it as self-medication, so the question is more than relevant.

Psychiatrist Julie Holland, author of a fairly
popular book on marijuana, believes it provides relief for military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

In 2016, a study came out in the journal Clinical Psychology Review claiming that cannabis can also improve the condition of people with depression and sociophobia. However, it was soon discovered that these scientists received funding from Canadian marijuana producers, so there is reason to doubt their objectivity.
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Don't buy from me
Feb 26, 2023
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Ah, the topic of cannabis and mental health is an important one. It's crucial to remember that the effects of cannabis on mental health can vary from person to person. While some find relief, others might experience increased anxiety or other issues. It's essential to be aware of your own reactions and consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns.


Don't buy from me
Feb 26, 2023
Reaction score
Ah, the topic of cannabis and mental health is an important one. It's crucial to remember that the effects of cannabis on mental health can vary from person to person. While some find relief, others might experience increased anxiety or other issues. It's essential to be aware of your own reactions and consult a healthcare professional if you have concerns.
LeslieKramerAnd remember, if you or someone you know is struggling with mental health concerns, there are always hotlines for mental health available to provide support and guidance. It's great to see these discussions happening – knowledge is power when it comes to making informed choices.
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