New research suggests that people who suffer from depression are about twice as likely to use cannabis as people who do not experience depression, according to a Reuters report. The study by researchers at universities in North Carolina and New York found that in 2017, 19 percent of people with depression used at least some cannabis, compared to 8.7 percent of those without a history of depression.
The research covered nearly 729,000 individuals 12-years-and-older from 2005 to 2017; in 2005, about 10.2 percent of people with depression used cannabis compared to 5.7 percent who used cannabis but didn’t experience depression.
The percentage of people with depression who viewed cannabis use as risky behavior also fell from 41 percent to 17 percent during the 12-year study, compared with a decline from 52 percent to 33 percent among those without depression, according to the study published in the journal Addiction.
Renee Goodwin of Columbia University, the study’s lead author, explained to Reuters that people with depression “who perceive little or no risk associated with use have a much higher prevalence of cannabis use, relative to those who perceive higher associated risks.”
“There is some thinking that drug use is a form of self-medication of depression, or attempted self-medication of depressive symptoms.” – Goodwin, to Reuters
Additionally, people experiencing depression between the ages of 18 and 25 reported cannabis use rates of nearly 30 percent.
Goodwin suggested that “there is no evidence to suggest that cannabis use will ease depression symptoms, except temporarily and there are data to suggest that cannabis use may worsen or prolong depression. Historically, patients in treatment/recovery from depression are advised to avoid cannabis use,” she said.
According to Reuters, the study was not designed to determine whether or how depression might influence how often people consume cannabis. The study also did not take into account what effect the legalization of cannabis has had on public opinion during the 12-year period.