By David G. Sperling, M.D.A. and Emily M. LinnenbaumThe findings are in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Attention Disorders.
The study, published online by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) journal of attention disorders, was conducted by researchers from the University of Southern California and Johns Hopkins University.
The researchers conducted the study while monitoring participants who used marijuana during the study period.
The participants in the study had a diagnosis of ADHD from a recent clinical review.
Participants who used other substances were excluded.
Researchers found that marijuana use in general and marijuana in particular was associated with increased risk of depression and suicide.
“Marijuana use was associated for a very small number of participants with the development of depression or suicide attempts,” said Dr. Siegel.
“Our findings are consistent with findings from other studies showing that a significant number of children with ADHD have attempted suicide, and that these suicidal thoughts are often related to substance use.
We found no consistent association between marijuana use and the development or severity of depression.”
The researchers concluded that the findings of this study provide support for the need for marijuana legalization in the U.S. and for policies that are intended to reduce the use of marijuana in our society.
Dr. Sigmund Freud, the great Austrian psychiatrist, once said, “It is better to be sober than to be sick.”
He was referring to the concept of sober living, the philosophy that a person can be healthy and happy while still experiencing a number of negative emotions.
Dr Siegel and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of studies that assessed the relationship between cannabis use and psychiatric disorders.
The researchers looked at the results of studies conducted from 1979 to 2012 and found that, over the period, marijuana use was not associated with higher risk of developing an ADHD diagnosis or suicide.
Instead, the association between cannabis usage and ADHD and suicide was stronger for children with diagnosed ADHD.
“The results suggest that the association of marijuana use with risk of psychiatric disorders is weak,” said study author Dr. Mark A. Zaidi.
“We did not find evidence of a causal association between ADHD and substance use.”
Dr. Zillinger noted that the research does not prove that marijuana is directly or indirectly harmful to the brain, but he emphasized that it is important to know whether marijuana use can be safely avoided and to do research to understand the risk factors for mental health problems.
“There are a lot of things we don’t know yet, but there is some good information available now that could be used to better understand how cannabis use might affect mental health,” he said.
“Given the increasing number of cases of ADHD, it is imperative that we do our best to prevent it from becoming a significant health problem in the United States,” said Zillberg.