Cannabis and schizophrenia; does it cause it?

Posted on October 19th, 2021 to Uncategorized

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Cannabis and schizophrenia; does it cause it?

Cannabis is gaining popularity due to its few side effects when compared to other drugs. But this doesn’t mean it’s safe. Cannabis may put some people at risk of developing serious side effects when used improperly.

One primary area we need to focus on is marijuana and schizophrenia. People ask if there is a relationship between marijuana and schizophrenia, so does marijuana cause schizophrenia?

What is Schizophrenia?

Before going detailly on the link between marijuana and schizophrenia, let’s get a good understanding of the condition.

Schizophrenia is a severe mental health disorder that affects thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Sufferers of schizophrenia face difficulties differentiating between what’s real and what’s imagined. Patients often avoid social interactions, and they may find difficulties regulating or expressing feelings. 

The symptoms of schizophrenia are common during early adulthood. Men usually experience it in their early 20s, and women experience it in their late 20s or early 30s. However less obvious symptoms such as no socialization may appear earlier.

Treatment for schizophrenia is essential for patients to live fulfilling lives. But will cannabis cause or prevent this condition?

Marijuana and Schizophrenia

The link between marijuana and schizophrenia has been on the books for decades.

Firstly, there are some essential things to consider when inquiring about marijuana for schizophrenia. Marijuana has a low chance of increasing the risk of someone experiencing psychosis. Regardless, the risk of psychosis with marijuana use increases in someone who is already at a higher risk of a person with a family history of psychotic disorders.

This links to the topic of marijuana and schizophrenia because current research shows that cannabis may increase long-term psychiatric effects in susceptible people. This could influence more severe symptoms of schizophrenia in someone who is already a sufferer. It could also manifest as the beginning of psychotic symptoms in individuals with underlying mental health conditions.

Marijuana also influences a user’s endocannabinoid system which is a key area of the brain that’s associated with schizophrenia. The endocannabinoid system controls most of our daily functions including cognition, sleep, emotion, and reward processing. Schizophrenia sufferers may experience deficiencies in this area which can result in increased endocannabinoid receptors.

Schizophrenia sufferers may use also self-medicate with substances. Research shows that nearly half of schizophrenia sufferers also have co-occurring marijuana use disorder, and this can worsen the progression of their illness.

Scientists note that susceptible schizophrenia patients who start using marijuana in adolescence can increase the risk of its symptoms. Young people with schizophrenia may have increased risk factors after using marijuana.

Bottom line

Currently, scientists don’t believe that cannabis causes schizophrenia if no other risk factors are present. People may experience a short-term psychosis after consuming high amounts of psychoactive cannabis, but this isn’t a long-term effect.

What’s possible with marijuana and schizophrenia is that it can trigger the condition or worsen its symptoms in people who are already experiencing the disorder.

There is still a need for more research on marijuana and schizophrenia, especially as both deals with the endocannabinoid system. However, we recommend that schizophrenia sufferers or anyone predisposed to the condition be very cautious when using any substances including marijuana.

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