Friday, May 9, 2008

Depression and drugs

Apparently, the gub'mint has released a statement that depression and marijuana are not to be mixed, particularly in people between the ages of 12 and 17. Is it based on sound science, though?

While drug use in anyone under the age of 18 is completely idiotic, the report is poorly cited and makes poor logical conclusions:

Millions of American teens* report experiencing weeks of hopelessness and loss of
interest in normal daily activities, and many of these depressed teens are making
the problem worse by using marijuana and other drugs. Some teens use marijuana
to relieve the symptoms of depression (“self-medicate”), wrongly believing it may
alleviate these depressed feelings. In surveys, teens often report using marijuana
and other drugs not only to relieve symptoms of depression, but also to “feel good,”
or “feel better,” to relieve stress, and help them cope.
However, recent studies show that marijuana and depression are a dangerous
combination. In fact, using marijuana can worsen depression and lead to more
serious mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide.
Weekly or more frequent use of marijuana doubles a teen’s risk of depression and
anxiety. Depressed teens are more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or
become dependent on marijuana.
Alarmingly, the majority of teens who report feeling depressed aren’t getting
professional help. They have not seen or spoken to a medical doctor or other
professional about their feelings. For parents, this means they need to pay closer
attention to their teen’s behavior and mood swings, and recognize that marijuana
and other drugs could be playing a dangerous role in their child’s life.
Nowhere in the paper are the citations even mentioned, and to my knowledge, a lot of people use drugs because they're depressed - biochemically, however, THC binds a cannabinoid receptor - CB1 - neuropharmacologists are currently debating the causality of the correlation of psychotic symptoms and THC (for the record, since neuropharmacology is an entirely different field of neuroscience than the field of neuroscience which I am studying, I can only give my personal experience - I have known a few stoners, and to my knowledge, they are not psychotic). The most common hypothesis is the self-medication hypothesis, which attributes the use of marijuana among depressed individuals to substance abuse by many who are mentally ill and who do not have access to the proper treatment. More disturbing is the list of statements made by the DEA without assessment of information:

Executive Summary
Two million teens report feelings of depression and loss of interest in
daily activities during the past year.
Depressed teens are twice as likely as non-depressed teens to use
marijuana and other illicit drugs.
Depressed teens are more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse
or become dependent on marijuana.
Using marijuana can cause depression and other mental illnesses.
Marijuana use can worsen depression and lead to more serious
mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide.
Teens who smoke marijuana at least once a month are three times
more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users.
The percentage of depressed teens is equal to the percentage
of depressed adults, but depressed teens are more likely than
depressed adults to use marijuana and other drugs.
Teen girls who use marijuana daily are more likely than girls who do
not use marijuana to develop depression.

There the feds go again with their causality. I wonder if NIMH and NINDS have started any sort of stink about this - SAMHSA is independent of the NIH, though, which is highly suspect, and their citations don't say anything about causal implication.

Here's the report - though I do not condone or support marijuana use by anyone who is not legally an adult, I think it is fallacious and idiotic to make unsupported statements about a drug .

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Anonymous said...

1. Can you really trust a government based organization to give you unbiased information? That's like asking China to give us a list of all the benefits of democracy.

2. Okay, so depressed teens shouldn't smoke pot b/c it will make them more depressed? Fine. Well maybe if our society wasn't so F'd up they'd have other options than marijuana.

3. If statement two is true than tell me about the downfalls of marijuana users who are NOT depressed.

4. None of these reports say WHY cannabis increases depression and supposed risks of schizophrenia.

5. This is an age old battle of cause and effect. These reports issued by the White House send mixed messages. In the CNN press release video the first guy says marijuana creates depression while the second says depressed kids are more likely to smoke marijuana.

6. Marijuana opens your mind. The government doesn't like that at all. Ever wonder why alcohol and caffeine are legal? Alcohol closes your mind and caffeine is a potent tool to keep people working as fast as they can thus boosting the economy.

Don't fall into the trap, this societal conditioning on a large scale! If you can't see that, it's working on you.

davemartin7777 said...

The damage done to depressed kids using alcohol (a depressant) any study being done on that one?

How many kids die from booze every year, verses the number of pot deaths... I'd like to see the White House numbers on that one.

But an alcohol/depression study?

Probably not, not because booze safer (it is not) but because it supports a large part of the American economy.

I saw that this story was being carried by Pravda... how appropriate.

kldickson said...

skittlz087 -

1. Yes, you can. When you have enough information that those in the organization disagree with the executive (the NIH, for example, is made up of mostly liberals) and when the information checks with that produced by non-governmental institutions, you can ascribe less bias to them.

2. Both sides of the argument are apparently poorly informed about this - correlation is not causation.

3. How is statement 3 connected to statement 2?

4. Precisely.

5. There isn't enough research into the causes.

6. I have not tried marijuana, so I cannot speak for those who have; however, I suspect the question of governmental illegalization of marijuana is more about 'can it turn a profit?' than keeping one's mind open or closed. I know a few stoners, and marijuana definitely does not open their minds. Alcohol is profitable, tobacco is profitable, and caffeine is profitable.

There is a societal conditioning component to it, but it is of a different nature than you think.

And Pravda, like most Russian newspapers, eats some major ass.

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Anonymous said...

Are you guys serious? I just turned sixteen at the beginning of the month and was smoking weed for about a year and a half.. I can tell you that it most defiantly was the main reason why I was soo depressed and paranoid about everything. It amplified my insecurities and made me soo fucking lazy. I just quit one day because I couldn't take it anymore. It's so fucking stupid, it becomes a lifestyle. More negative things come out of it then good, yeah sure it makes you realize allot of things but honestly it's changed me as a person and I would much rather be the person I was before I smoked weed. and we ALL know that after smoking weed we want to try other drugs because weed got too boring. and that just fucks you up even more. It's not worth it in the long run.

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Carolin Newmeyer said...

As for me, no matter what the reasons are, depressed kids need society's help to get better. This type of help should start from the home. Otherwise, a broken home can most likely turn a kid to be socially awkward and estranged from his/her family.