The study found that marijuana abuse by youth with mood disorders associated with suicide attempt, suicide and death


“The notion that marijuana is safe to use, but we need to educate parents and children that there are risks involved, especially heavy and high-caliber cannabis use,” study author Cynthia Fontanella Said, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health At Ohio State University College of Medicine.

“And physicians need to intervene with the use of cannabis, as well as to identify and treat children with mood disorders,” Fontanella said.

Cannabis use disorder, also known as marijuana use disorder, is associated with dependence on weed use. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a person is considered to be dependent on weed after food dependence or loss of appetite, irritability, restlessness and mood and sleep difficulties.
The potential for marijuana grown today can be between 17% and 28%, compared to 2% in the 1960s.

“People who start using marijuana before the age of 18 are four to seven times more likely to develop marijuana use disorder than adults,” NIDA advises. Approximately 4 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for a marijuana use disorder in 2015, NIDA estimates.

Experts say the number would have risen in 15 states due to legalization of recreational marijuana for adults and medical use in 36 states, as well as an increase in affordability in today’s varieties.
Studies in adults indicate a strong association between weed overuse and suicide attempts and death. A study of adult same-sex twins found that those who relied on marijuana were nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide than twins who were not dependent on weed.
Another study of 1,463 suicides and 7,392 natural deaths in the United States found a link between suicide risk after adjusting for any use of marijuana by adults and use of alcohol, depression, and mental health services. And according to a four-year study of 6,445 Danish adults, there was an increased risk of suicide for both men and women who depended on marijuana.

First education in children

The new study used Ohio Medicare data to identify cannabis-using disorder and self-harm efforts and outcomes in youth between the ages of 10 and 24 years. Studies can only show an association between cannabis dependence and negative outcomes, not direct cause and effect.

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Prior studies show that mood disorders in children are highly likely to use and misuse marijuana, Fontanella said, partly because they do not like the side effects of many prescribed drugs.

“Mood stabilizers and psychotropic drugs can cause weight gain, say up to 30 or 40 pounds … stiffness of their neck or eyes … and it can cause fainting,” Fontanella said. “So, they cannot use their medication and self-medicate with cannabis to treat mood disorders.”

It may also be that using weed may contribute to the development of mood disorders.

“Research suggests that cannabis use is associated with early onset of mood disorder, psychosis and anxiety disorders, so it may be the onset of serious mental illness,” Fontanella said.

At this point, however, science is not sure who comes first, partly because few if any studies have been done in adolescents and young adults.

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“Research suggests that marijuana exposure affects the brain’s ability to process emotions. Can it interact efficiently with the developing brain?” Dr. Lucian Gonzalez, who chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Substance Use and Prevention. Gonzalez was not involved in the study.

“It does not prove that cannabis use causes depression or self-harm, but certainly does not contradict it,” said Gonzalez, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of Minnesota Medical School.

González said, “Complex associations can be found, and we are yet to fully understand them.”

While science solves the answers, “family-based models and individualized approaches such as cognitive behavioral therapy” have been effective in treating youth with marijuana use disorder, Fontanella and her team said. He also asked for a rollout A national study to examine mortality risk for youth and young adults struggling with overuse of weed.

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