Is Marijuana a Depressant?

Addiction treatment, Depression | 0 comments

Marijuana is a psychoactive drug that acts as a stimulant, depressant, and hallucinogen. Its impact on the brain poses serious risks to a person’s mental health. Those who use marijuana more frequently and youth whose brains are still developing are put at the greatest risk. If you are concerned that marijuana may be contributing to your child’s depressive state, it is best to speak with a mental health professional.

How Does Marijuana Affect Mental Health?

Marijuana contains delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive chemical that reaches the brain and can alter a person’s mental state. When THC reaches the brain, it can produce depressant effects through brain cell receptors. This provides the relaxed sensation that users sometimes feel when using marijuana. However, this depressant impact slows down brain function and could put users at risk of anxiety, fatigue, memory problems, poor concentration, and confusion.

Marijuana’s Effect on the Brain

The brain does not stop developing and maturing until a person’s mid-to-late 20s. This puts youth at higher risk of the negative impacts of marijuana on the brain. Several studies have proven that there are many negative effects of using marijuana in youth including:

  • Cognitive impairment
  • Memory loss
  • Inability to pay attention or learn
  • Functional impairment

While there are many causes for depression in teens, marijuana use can put them at higher risk, or be a contributing factor. The impact of marijuana on the brain can lead to decreased academic performance. Poor grades and struggles to learn can put high stress on youth.

Are Youth More Susceptible to Depression from Marijuana?

According to a Columbia University study, teens who use marijuana are two to four times more likely to develop depression or other psychiatric disorders than teens who don’t use marijuana. But, are youth at a higher risk of depression from marijuana use than adults? Because their brain is still developing, the long-lasting impact of marijuana on the brain puts youth at a higher risk. In addition, youth experience so many life changes in such a small period of time. Any negative experiences or high stress they have could be exacerbated by marijuana use because of its impact on the brain.   

Is Marijuana Impacting Your Child’s Mental Health?

If you are concerned that marijuana may be impacting your child’s mental health, it may be time to speak with a mental health professional. There are so many varying causes of depression in adolescents, that marijuana use may not be the only contributing factor to your child’s mental health. A mental health professional can help your child understand root triggers of their depressive state to develop the right coping skills to improve their overall wellbeing.

How to Address Adolescent Marijuana Use

Seeking help from a mental health professional or a marijuana use outpatient treatment program for adolescents provides only one of many ways to address your child’s marijuana use. Here are some other tips that parents can use to address adolescent marijuana use:

  • Educate: The biggest way to prevent marijuana use before it even occurs is through making sure your child understands the negative impacts of marijuana use.
  • Listen: Having a conversation where you can listen carefully to your child’s thoughts on marijuana use will give you a greater understanding of what they know and how to help if they begin to use
  • Explain: Oftentimes, education also requires explaining why that information is important to your child. They might already know the risks of marijuana use, but explaining the long-term impacts and how it could impact them takes the education even further.
  • Create a Safe Environment: It is better for your child to admit that they have used marijuana than for them to hide the behavior. Hiding makes it harder to see how much of a problem it has become for them. A safe environment requires you to provide your child with a safe, positive space where they are confident enough to express their true thoughts freely.

Regular use of marijuana can become a long-term issue for teens. If your child is frequently using marijuana, outpatient treatment programs provide a customized approach to help your child develop coping skills to deal with their use. Some forms of depression can also be treated through outpatient treatment programs, designed to address both their marijuana use and mental health. 

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