Marijuana and Depression

Everyone among Cannabis users are pretty curious to know whether marijuana causes depression. The answer is no. There is proper evidence as to support the fact that marijuana causes depression. Marijuana and depression accompany each other more often than by chance, but fails to show any clear evidence. There is continuous research ongoing whether marijuana causes depression and it has been found that cannabis smokers are often diagnosed with depression.

Mostly it is the genetic or other environmental factors that trigger depression in a person. It has been seen that depressed people are more likely to use marijuana to divert themselves from the depressing factors and thoughts. Medical marijuana is still recommended by physicians as controlled usage can actually cure people from depression and anxiety disorders. For chronic user, they appear to seem depressed because of the side effects of marijuana. But nothing to fear as these side effects is temporary and prevails only for a few hours depending on the amount of usage. Another way to look at it would be that regular Marijuana addicts could spend most of their time on a ‘high’ or behave erratically that they isolate themselves or get split from family and friends, and find it difficult to get a job or even keep it. Which all, in-turn lead too or cause an addict to suffer from depression due to their current situation that regular Marijuana use has put them through.

The general side effects are red eyes and dry mouth of which both are temporary. Researchers of Imperial College London have found that consumption of marijuana on a long term basis causes the dopamine to decrease which is found in the brain. Decrease in dopamine again is nothing harmful nor does, it causes death. It just impairs the speed of response of the brain when something exciting is supposed to happen. This is what we see in cannabis users that they sit around and do nothing is actually just a temporary side effect of marijuana. (Marijuana effects on the brain)

There are links between marijuana depression and other mental disorders. For example, marijuana use may trigger schizophrenia in a person; this happens when a person is suffering from schizophrenia or having any kind of psychosis disorder. In such a case the patient should not use marijuana at all as this might impair judgement and ability to distinguish the real from the unreal.

Marijuana and DepressionTo examine if marijuana and depression was really associated with each other, a study was conducted through psychinfo and EMBASE database. The result showed a very modest association between marijuana and depression for heavy users among the general population. Very little evidence was found which concluded that if a person started ingesting marijuana heavily at regular basis at a very early stage, i.e. on the stage of puberty, then they would likely suffer from depression at a later stage. There was also very little evidence of increased risk for later use of marijuana causing depression symptoms. But regardless, it failed to conclude that marijuana causes depression, but they always have a very modest association among them.


Does Marijuana Cause Anxiety?

Cannabis use may either make a person feel drowsy and tired and for another set of people cannabis can wake them up and make them feel energetic. Although some people say that the use of marijuana gives rise to the symptoms of marijuana depression, but it has been found that for people already suffering from depression and anxiety disorder, marijuana worsens it. Marijuana and depression doesn’t not have a close association as of yet. Marijuana may trigger anxiety such as panic in a short term basis but there again lays no evidence as to marijuana can cause chronic anxiety disorder or obsessive compulsive disorder.


How the Age of the User Plays a Part:

Another study was conducted in Australia among 3239 young adults who were followed from birth till the age of 21 years. The main aim of the study was to find out if marijuana uses triggered anxiety and depression symptoms in young adults. Now all other factors were closely observed at the same time including the use of other illicit drugs. It was found that the children who started using cannabis at the age of 15 and were using it heavily till the age of 21 years were more likely to show anxiety and depression disorder symptoms at the later stage.
Results also found that youths who hadn’t used cannabis at all had much lower chances of developing anxiety and depression disorder symptoms than occasional or frequent users. (see table below)

Marijuana and Depression
Table showing Ratio of anxiety and depression in Young Adults
The above table clearly shows that young non cannabis users showed the lowest ratio of anxiety and depression, where as occasional cannabis users showed some increase in the ratio of anxiety and depression, but an even higher ratio was seen in frequent users.
So a fair conclusion was made that use of marijuana and depression was independent of the child and their family background. So it again shows a very modest association that use of cannabis at an early stage might trigger depression and anxiety symptoms at early adult stage whether they use cannabis or other illicit drugs.
The main issue with marijuana use during the teenage years is that when young users smoke cannabis and get high, they are not as alert or not overly concerned with whats going on around them, which in turn could lead to a weaker performance in their academic studies, more problems in there social life, and difficulties in getting a job. A of which could result in anxiety and depression over time. So, indirectly marijuana use could highly lead to anxiety and depression because of the later consequences an addict has to face.
To learn more about the ways to quit marijuana, click here!


  • Association between cannabis use and depression – Addiction Journal – 2003 – by Louisa Degenhardt, Wayne Hall, Michael Lynskey
  • Cannabis and Anxiety and Depression in Young Adults – American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Journal – 2007 – by MOHAMMAD R. HAYATBAKHSH, JAKE M. NAJMAN, Ph.D., KONRAD JAMROZIK, D.Phil., ABDULLAH A. MAMUN, Ph.D., ROSA ALATI, Ph.D., WILLIAM BOR