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With the topic of Medical Marijuana up for discussion in Florida, many people are choosing to argue that cannabis is used as a medicine to treat mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, and bi-polar disorder among several others. Most of these arguments come from anecdotal testimony rather than scientific data. Several published reviews and studies have contradicted these statements and show that marijuana is harmful to those with a mental health illness and has shown in some cases to induce other mental health illnesses.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,” Using marijuana can directly worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression or schizophrenia through its actions on the brain. People who smoke marijuana are also 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.” People who use marijuana that already suffer from a mental illness are more prone to the negative symptoms of being high such as depressed moods, paranoia, anxiety, heart palpitations and shortness of breath. Those who suffer from depression and also smoke marijuana report a strong lack of energy and motivation, whereas activation and engagement in daily activities are key factors in recovery from this illness.
Over the years several studies have shown associations between marijuana use and schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder often characterized by abnormal social behavior, as well as failure to recognize reality. Common symptoms include false beliefs, unclear and confused thinking, auditory hallucinations, reduced social behavior and inactivity. A review by The Federal Government shows that cannabis users with a family history or pre-disposition to schizophrenia show symptoms of the illness earlier than usual and worse symptoms than a non-cannabis using patient. Another review by the Yale University School of Medicine states that up to 14% of all schizophrenia cases may be caused by marijuana use.
A large connection between marijuana and mental health issues is the link to psychosis. Evidence shows that the earlier and heavier an individual’s exposure to marijuana is, the higher the risk of psychotic episodes. In addition to later in life psychosis, marijuana also can induce immediate psychotic episodes in certain users. Some easily recognizable symptoms of psychosis are hallucination, paranoia and impairment in concentration. Those who have a mental illness are also more likely to become regular marijuana consumers than those who do not have these illnesses.

-Melanie Bright

 

As active members in this community we aim for it to be as healthy as it can be. The links between mental illness and marijuana consumption are present and frightening. Although conditions such as schizophrenia are rare, if marijuana use continues to increase so will the diagnoses of mental health illnesses.
Supporting Resources
http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000226
http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/08/04/the-marijuana-schizophrenia-link/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0
http://learnaboutmarijuanawa.org/factsheets/mentalhealth.htm
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra1402309
http://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/marijuana
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033190/

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