Dr. Cohen: Cannabis use may be linked to clinical depression
Jul 10, 2023, 1:24 PM
(AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
A new study says that people who have previously been diagnosed with cannabis use disorder are twice as likely to later have clinical depression.
The research came out in the Journal of American Medical Association.
The study, based in Denmark, examined more than six-million people.
Dr. Gordon Cohen, appearing on Seattle’s Morning News, said cannabis use disorder is defined as “craving [cannabis], using it more often than intended, spending a lot of time using it, and having it interfere with friends, family, and work.”
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Cohen said the study not only links cannabis use to clinical depression, but also bipolar disorder. He said the real issue is what is the cause and what is the effect.
“It’s a chicken and egg question. Are the people who have cannabis use disorder people who were already having symptoms and were trying to self-medicate by using cannabis? Or was the cannabis causing them to either speed up the development of these psychiatric disorders? Or was it causing them?” Cohen pondered.
He said that can’t exactly be answered by this type of study, but the suspicion of the investigators is that there was a relationship between actually using cannabis excessively and the development of later psychiatric disorders.
“Now, there’s cannabis that has such high concentrations of THC that you can’t even really compare what’s going on now to what was being used 20 years ago,” Cohen explained. “So it’s made studying this challenging, and that’s why this most recent study is interesting. Because it does give a longitudinal perspective that would take all of this into account.”
KIRO Newsradio’s Dave Ross asked Cohen: “So can your doctor tell you if you have a problem? When you get an annual physical, they do a blood test. If you had a problem with [cannabis], would that show up in your blood workup?”
“It wouldn’t. You’d have to do an actual toxicology screen on the blood to look for it,” Cohen said. “One of the challenges with THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, is that it’s fat soluble, and so it stays in the body for a very long time. So somebody could be using it recreationally or could have used it recreationally a month or two ago, and they could still test positive for it even that much later.”
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