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Can Marijuana Cause Mental Illness?

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Updated February 13, 2014

Question: Can Marijuana Cause Mental Illness?
Answer: Scientists do not yet know how the use of marijuana relates to mental illness. Among the difficulties in this kind of research are determining whether drug use precedes or follows mental health problems; whether one causes the other; and/or whether both are due to other factors such as genetics or environmental conditions.

High doses of marijuana can induce psychosis (disturbed perceptions and thoughts), and marijuana use can worsen psychotic symptoms in people who have schizophrenia. There is also evidence of increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal thinking in chronic marijuana users.

However, it is not yet clear whether marijuana is being used in an attempt to self-medicate an already present but otherwise untreated mental health problem, or whether marijuana use leads to mental disorders (or both).

Back to: Marijuana FAQ for Parents

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