Marijuana for Mental Health Treatment Ineffective, Analysis Finds

But results of a new study suggest cannabis is ineffective for mental health conditions.
By on 11/04/2019 7:15 PM

Source: MedicineNet Health News

When people experience depression, anxiety, psychosis, or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), many turn to marijuana for relief. But results of a new study suggest cannabis is ineffective for mental health disorders.

The systematic review and meta-analysis published in The Lancet journal examined approximately 40 studies from around the world published between 1980 and 2018. The studies examined the use of medicinal cannabinoids in adults for the treatment of mental health disorders.

The review concluded that there is little evidence that cannabinoids, the active chemicals in marijuana, relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, Tourette's syndrome, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or psychosis.

However, very low quality evidence did suggest that pharmaceutical grade THC, both with or without CBD, provided slight relief from anxiety in those who had other medical conditions.

Popular But Unproven

Medscape reports that worldwide legalized cannabis use is on the rise. Despite the lack of evidence that cannabinoids are effective in treating mental health conditions, Medscape's Pauline Anderson says depression is the most common reason people in the U.S. cite for using cannabinoids.

"We were fairly surprised that there wasn't a single published study primarily aimed at looking at cannabinoids for people who had depression," lead study investigator Louisa Degenhardt, PhD told Anderson.

Dr. Deepak Cyril D'Souza, MD, of Yale University School of Medicine, wrote an editorial about the study results in the same issue of The Lancet. He says due to the results, "it would be hard for practitioners to justify recommending the use of cannabis for psychiatric conditions at this time."

Mental Health Disorders Are Common

"Mental disorders are characterized by abnormalities in thinking, feelings, or behaviors," according to MedicineNet author . "Highly common, about 46% of Americans can expect to meet the formal diagnostic criteria for some form of anxiety, depressive, behavioral, thought, or substance-abuse disorder during their lifetime."

A position statement approved by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) this year states there is no current scientific evidence that cannabis is effective for the treatment of psychiatric conditions. The APA said further research on cannabis-derived substances should be facilitated by the federal government.

The study's authors came to the same conclusion, stating that more high-quality studies are needed to determine the effect of cannabinoids on mental health conditions.

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