Cannabis and mental health: The essentials you need to know

Cannabis for mental health

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, has been used for both medicinal and recreational purposes throughout the centuries. However, its influence on mental health is a topic of increasing interest and debate. Here's a detailed look at the relationship between cannabis and mental health, with key information you should know.

Composition of Cannabis

Cannabis is composed of various chemicals, among which the following stand out tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects, while CBD is associated with medicinal properties without generating a "high". It is crucial to distinguish between recreational and medicinal use of cannabis, as their effects and risks can differ considerably.

Impact on Mental Health


CBD has shown potential for treating anxiety. Initial studies suggest that it may have anxiolytic effects, reducing anxiety symptoms in some people. For example, a 2019 study showed that CBD significantly decreased anxiety levels in people with social anxiety disorder and those with insomnia-related anxiety.

On the other hand, THC can aggravate anxiety in some individuals, causing symptoms such as paranoia and panic, especially in high doses or in predisposed individuals. This underscores the importance of the dosage and composition of cannabis when considering it for treating anxiety.


The relationship between cannabis use and depression is complex. Some users report temporary relief of depressive symptoms with marijuana use. CBD has been investigated for its possible antidepressant effects, although results are still preliminary.

However, chronic cannabis use may be linked to an increased risk of depression, particularly in young people. A longitudinal study noted that frequent cannabis use before the age of 18 may increase the likelihood of developing depressive symptoms in adulthood. In addition, marijuana use may interfere with the brain's ability to regulate mood and emotions, worsening depressive symptoms in the long term.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Medical cannabis has been used to alleviate symptoms of PTSD, improving sleep and reducing re-experiencing trauma. CBD has shown potential in this treatment due to its anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects, although the evidence is still preliminary and more studies are needed.

Psychosis and Schizophrenia

Marijuana use, especially in large quantities and at young ages, is associated with an increased risk of developing psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. Cannabinoid receptors in the brain are crucial in the regulation of mental and emotional processes, and THC can negatively influence these, increasing the risk of psychotic episodes.

Several studies have found a correlation between adolescent cannabis use and early onset of psychotic disorders. For example, it has been reported that adolescents who use cannabis are up to four times more likely to develop schizophrenia compared to non-users. This risk is higher in individuals with a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.

Other Disorders

Cannabis may also affect other mental health conditions. In bipolar disorder, some studies suggest that cannabis may exacerbate manic and depressive episodes, although others suggest possible benefits. The evidence is conflicting and more studies are needed.

As for eating disorders, some patients report that cannabis helps stimulate appetite and reduce eating-related anxiety, although scientific evidence is still scarce.

Scientific Evidence and Public Health

A recent study highlights that cannabis use before the age of 25 may alter brain development and increase the likelihood of developing mental illness. This study underscores the importance of considering the impact of cannabis on the developing brain, especially in adolescents and young adults.

Mental health centers play a crucial role in the interpretation and dissemination of these findings, providing guidance and support to both patients and their families. However, the scientific evidence still presents limitations and controversies, highlighting the need for more long-term research.

Therapeutic Use of Cannabis

The medicinal use of cannabis is regulated in several regions and is used to treat multiple conditions, including chronic pain and certain mental disorders. Mental health centers are essential in the supervision and administration of medical cannabis, ensuring appropriate and personalized treatments.

Patient testimonials and case studies suggest significant benefits of medical cannabis, but it is crucial to make informed decisions under medical supervision. Professionals in mental health facilities can assess the risks and benefits of cannabis use, providing evidence-based guidance.

Tips for Responsible Use

For those considering cannabis use, it is essential to follow dosage and product quality recommendations. Responsible consumption can minimize risks and maximize potential benefits, especially in the context of mental disorders. Consultation with a mental health center before starting to use cannabis is recommended in order to receive personalized advice and avoid possible adverse effects.


The cannabis has a complex impact on mental health, with potential benefits and risks. It is essential to consider scientific evidence, individual experiences and legal regulations when making informed decisions about its use. Consulting with a mental health center can be a valuable tool for those seeking guidance, ensuring a balanced and safe approach.

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