Mental Health Effects of Marijuana

Mental Health Effects of Marijuana

Marijuana may have a direct effect on mood and mood-related mental health disorders. Mild to severe negative mood effects related to marijuana use have been found in many studies, as among long-term, low-volume smokers, “The most common adverse effects were feelings of anxiety, paranoia or depression, tiredness and low motivation” (“Psychiatric Effects of Cannabis,” The British Journal of Psychiatry [BJ Psych], 2001). The drug may also contribute or be related to suicidal thoughts and ideation, as BJ Psych found, “Among individuals making serious attempts at suicide, 16.2% met criteria for cannabis misuse/dependence compared with 1.9% of controls…cannabis misuse makes a direct contribution to the risk of serious self-harm, either directly or by aggravation of other mental disorders.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) explains that marijuana use has longer-term effects on mental health than temporary or short-term changes in mood or thoughts. The effects of marijuana on mood and mood disorders means, “People who smoke marijuana are less likely to actively participate in their treatment—missing more appointments and having more difficulty with medication-adherence—than people who abstain from using this drug” (“Marijuana and Mental Illness,” March 2013). Individuals with pre-existing depression or anxiety concerns may experience a worsening of their symptoms in addition to a lessened willingness to engage in the actions and activities that would otherwise keep their mental health at a manageable level.

Marijuana can cause short-term changes in perception just as it can cause short-term changes in mood. BJ Psych explains that use can result in, “depersonalisation, derealisation, a feeling of loss of control, fear of dying, irrational panic and paranoid ideas…15% [of marijuana users] identified psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices or having unwarranted feelings of persecution or risk of harm from others.” These symptoms are typically short lived, but they can still have a profound effect on an individual’s mental health and personal safety. However if a marijuana user has a pre-existing psychotic illness or is at risk for one, marijuana may trigger symptoms. NAMI shares that individuals at risk of developing schizophrenia, “will be more likely to experience psychosis if they are using marijuana…People who regularly smoke marijuana are diagnosed with schizophrenia at a younger age, hospitalized more frequently for their illness and are less likely to experience complete recovery even with high quality treatment.” Despite these facts, individuals struggling with schizophrenia commonly abuse marijuana and other drugs. This puts their mental and physical health at further risk and complicates efforts at recovery for both schizophrenia and addiction.

Integrated treatment provides a solution for those struggling with co-occurring mental health and drug abuse concerns. Our admissions coordinators can help you find the individualized treatment resources that are effective at managing your or your loved one’s unique addiction and health concerns. We are here 24 hours a day to make sure you have access to the country’s best recovery programs, so please call our toll-free helpline now.