A Review of the Relationship Between Cannabis Use and Affective Disorders

Thomas Hugh Richardson
University of Bath

Full paper: http://www.kon.org/urc/v8/bath.html

Abstract This paper examines the relationship between cannabis use and the affective disorders of depression, bipolar disorder, and mania. The literature is reviewed, examining both sides of the debate. The literature suggests that cannabis is most strongly related to depression in heavy use, in particular in adolescents. Cannabis may be used to self-medicate depressive symptoms, though there is little evidence that this is effective. Whilst cannabis may also be used for self-medication in bipolar disorder, it has a number of effects on the emergence, presentation, treatment, and prognosis of the illness. Cannabis use may also increase sub-clinical manic symptoms in non-clinical populations. Future research is then suggested to resolve some of the discrepancies in the literature.

Introduction Cannabis is the most widely used illegal drug in many countries, in Ireland, cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug, with an estimated 17 percent of the population using cannabis in their lifetime (NACDD, 2003). There is an increasing body of literature concerning the relationship between cannabis use and a number of psychiatric disorders including schizophrenia and psychosis. There has also been research on cannabis and depression and bipolar disorder, and a smaller body of literature on cannabis and mania. This review will examine the relationship between cannabis use and the three affective disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, and mania. Discrepancies in the literature will be examined, in particular regarding the cause-effect nature of any relationships, in order to draw conclusions about this issue, and suggest further research.

Read the full paper: http://www.kon.org/urc/v8/bath.html