Cannabis for Mental Health Disorders: Yes or Hell No?
Mental health issues such as depression, psychosis, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and bipolar disorder are extremely complex and they take many forms. In 2017, it was estimated that around 970 million people from all over the world suffered from some form of substance abuse or mental disorder. In fact, around 4% of the world’s entire population was estimated to have experienced an anxiety disorder.
For many years, it was popularly believed that different cannabis medicines were beneficial for individuals who couldn’t cope with depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. However, a recent study has shown that there are potentially more risks than benefits involved when treating patients with these kinds of mental disorders.
In fact, the evidence from trials conducted over a span of 40 years, presented in a review published in Lancet Psychiatry, claims that there are significant risks patients may encounter.
The authors of the review explored the effects of cannabinoids used for medicinal purposes in different trial groups for treating attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, Tourette syndrome, and depression, but the positive effects of the drug were severely lacking. Furthermore, the authors found instances where medicinal cannabinoids made psychosis in patients even worse.
The paper also mentions that cannabis use can significantly increase the rates of anxiety, psychosis, and depression in patients suffering from these disorders.
Deepak Cyril D’Souza of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, commented in the journal claiming that solid evidence for the benefits of medicinal cannabis on patients with mental disorders was scarce and that the use of medicinal cannabis for different mental illnesses could not be justified at this time. Furthermore, D’Souza adds that to safely use cannabinoids in different treatments of psychiatric disorders, they first have to be thoroughly tested in controlled trials and exposed to the same processes that regulate approval.
However, a renowned professor of substance use, currently teaching at the Liverpool John Moores Public Health Institute, Harry Sumnall, claims that the absence of vital evidence of the effectiveness of cannabinoids in patients with mental health disorders does not necessitate that medicinal drugs are of no use in such cases.
Sumnall did not participate in the study, but he managed to note that future research may determine the effectiveness of cannabis as a method of treatment in individuals suffering from mental health disorders.