The interplay between marijuana use and mental illness is complicated and full of unanswered questions. How marijuana affects risk of developing psychiatric disease, and conversely, how psychiatric disorders influence marijuana use, are actively being investigated in scientific studies.
Several studies have shown a link between marijuana use and an increased risk of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and other substance use disorders (Campolongo, Addict Biol, 2007). There is also mixed scientific evidence to support that marijuana use, especially during adolescence, is associated with later development of psychiatric disorders. These include increased risk of mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, and even psychotic disorders, like schizophrenia or cannabis-induced psychosis (Lev-Ran, Psychol Med, 2014; Bally, J Affect Disord, 2014; Gobbi, JAMA Psychiatry, 2019).
As new knowledge emerges, it is essential to stay up to date on how marijuana use interacts with mental health. Oftentimes, the nature of this relationship seems much like the “chicken and the egg” paradox, in that it is often unclear if mental health disorders preceded marijuana use, or marijuana use came before development of a mental health disorder. The bottom line, though, is that struggling with a mental health disorder is tough, as is struggling to cut back on marijuana use—let alone having to face both at once! If you or a loved one is struggling with mental health in addition to cannabis use disorder, your healthcare provider can help you navigate a path to treatment.