Marijuana Abuse and Teen Depression

According to the Partnership for a Drug Free America, six percent of all adolescents at any time are depressed and as many as twenty percent will have a major depressive disorder at some time in their life. That’s millions of teens who are experiencing weeks of hopelessness with no help in sight. For many of these depressed teens, using marijuana and other drugs are their only escape. It allows them to temporarily relive their depressed feelings, feel better, relieve stress and help them cope. Unfortunately, marijuana use only worsens the symptoms of depression and lead to even more serious mental disorders.

According to a recent report from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, marijuana and depression are a dangerous combination. Marijuana use can compound depression problems and lead to more serious disorders such as schizophrenia, anxiety and even suicide. The report showed that depressed teens are more than twice as likely as non-depressed teens to use marijuana during a depressed period and are almost twice as likely to have used other illicit drugs as non-depressed teens. Depressed teens are also more than twice as likely as their peers to abuse or become dependent on marijuana.

Many marijuana users falsely believe that marijuana is a harmless drug that is not addictive. The truth is that marijuana is an addictive drug that can increase the odds that depressed teens will suffer from even more serious mental health problems. According to the report, teens who smoke marijuana when feeling depressed are more likely to become addicted to marijuana or other illicit drugs. The report also revealed that:

* Teens who smoke marijuana at least once a month are three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts than non-users.

* Teen girls who use marijuana daily are more likely to develop depression than girls who do not use marijuana.

* Depressed teens are more likely than non-depressed teens to engage in other risky behaviors such as daily cigarette use and heavy alcohol use.

* Marijuana use increases the risk of developing mental disorders by 40 percent.

Unfortunately, the majority of teens who report feeling depressed aren’t getting professional help. In fact, a 2009 study showed that an alarming 70 percent of teens with clinical depression go undiagnosed and untreated. This means that parents have to pay closer attention to their teen’s behavior. It can be difficult to understand the thin line between normal teen angst and a more serious problem such as depression, especially when marijuana and other drug use complicate these signs. But there are some warning signs to watch for. For one, dramatic and long-lasting changes in personality, mood or behavior are red flags of depression. Also, teens will exhibit a variety of depression symptoms that are more common than in teens than in adults who are depressed. For example, instead of sadness being the predominant mood, many depressed teens will be angry, hostile, easily frustrated or prone to angry outbursts. They’ll also have unexplained aches and pains, will withdraw from certain people, and will become extremely sensitive to criticism.

If your teen is using marijuana and you feel that he or she might also have a problem with depression, don’t wait. Talk to your teen about the dangers of mixing marijuana with depression. According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, teens are 50 percent less likely to use drugs if they learn the risks of drug use from their parents. Also, find an expert who specializes in both addiction and depression. A good place to start is at a rehab facility that specializes in dual diagnosis treatment. Dual diagnosis treatment will address both co-occurring disorders simultaneously through a comprehensive program that’s tailored to your teen’s individual needs. These programs often include individual and group therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication (if needed), and holistic therapies such as yoga and equine therapy to help your teen reconnect their body, mind and spirit.

Help your teen finally find the relief he or she has been seeking. Treating your teen’s depression and marijuana abuse can help them live a life free of pain, helplessness and chronic addiction.

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This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for medical advice. We understand that everyone’s situation is unique, and this content is to provide an overall understanding of substance use disorders. These disorders are very complex, and this post does not take into account the unique circumstances for every individual. For specific questions about your health needs or that of a loved one, seek the help of a healthcare professional.