As cannabis use becomes more widespread, particularly in the wake of global legalisation efforts, understanding its impact on mental health is increasingly important. This topic has been the subject of numerous scientific studies, with findings that offer a complex and nuanced view. Let's delve into what we know so far about cannabis and mental health, backed by the latest scientific research.
1. Cannabis and Anxiety
Cannabis, particularly strains high in CBD, has been reported by some users to alleviate symptoms of anxiety. A study published in The Permanente Journal in 2019 indicated that CBD could have a beneficial role in treating anxiety-related disorders1. However, it's important to note that research is still in early stages, and cannabis may not have the same effect on everyone. Some individuals, particularly those using strains high in THC, may experience heightened anxiety or paranoia.
2. Cannabis and Depression
Research on the link between cannabis and depression yields mixed results. Some studies suggest that cannabis, specifically CBD, may have antidepressant effects2. However, other research indicates a correlation between heavy cannabis use and increased symptoms of depression[^3^]. More research is needed to fully understand this complex relationship.
3. Cannabis and Psychosis
Several studies have suggested a link between heavy cannabis use (particularly of high-THC strains) and an increased risk of developing psychosis. A study published in The Lancet Psychiatry in 2019 found that those who used high-potency cannabis daily had four times the risk of experiencing a psychotic disorder compared to those who never used cannabis[^4^].
4. Cannabis Use Disorder
Cannabis Use Disorder (CUD) is a mental health condition characterised by a problematic pattern of cannabis use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress[^5^]. Symptoms can include cravings, withdrawal symptoms when not using, and a negative impact on personal and professional responsibilities.
5. Cannabis as a Potential Treatment for PTSD
Emerging research suggests that cannabis may have potential as a treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some studies, such as one published in the Journal of Dual Diagnosis in 2019, have found that cannabis may help alleviate PTSD symptoms such as insomnia and anxiety[^6^]. However, more research is needed to confirm these effects and understand potential risks.
In conclusion, the relationship between cannabis and mental health is complex and varies greatly among individuals. More research is necessary to fully understand these connections and to guide safe and effective use. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, it's crucial to seek help from a healthcare professional.
Blessing, E. M., Steenkamp, M. M., Manzanares, J., & Marmar, C. R. (2015). Cannabidiol as a Potential Treatment for Anxiety Disorders. The Permanente Journal, 18(4), 18-41. DOI: 10.7812/TPP/18-041. ↩
Sales, A. J., Fogaça, M. V., Sartim, A. G., Pereira, V. S., Wegener, G., Guimarães, F. S., & Joca, S. R. L. (2019). Cannabidiol Induces Rapid and Sustained Antidepressant-Like Effects Through Increased BDNF Signaling and Synaptogenesis in the Prefrontal Cortex. Molecular Neurobiology, 56(2), 1070-1081. DOI: 10.1007/s12035-018-1143-4. ↩