Marijuana Use Enhances Mood but Makes Psychosis Worse

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Past research has shown that marijuana use by individuals at risk for schizophrenia may be one of the triggers for the development of psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions. However, a recent study by Dr. Cecile Henquet and his team at Maastricht University Medical Centre in the Netherlands has revealed even more about the effects of marijuana on individuals with schizophrenia or other psychotic disorders.

The study, which involved 38 healthy control participants, and 42 subjects with a psychotic disorder, was conducted to look more closely at how marijuana impacts mood and psychosis.

Schizophrenia, which affects approximately 1% of the population, is generally considered an incurable and very serious psychiatric disorder. In order to cope, it is not uncommon for schizophrenic individuals to self-medicate with street drugs like marijuana.

The study showed that, compared to the healthy subjects, the participants with psychotic disorders experienced a much greater improvement in their mood. This improvement also occurred very quickly. The marijuana also made psychotic symptoms worse.

This may explain the vicious cycle of marijuana use in individuals with psychotic disorders. They use it to feel better, but their psychosis gets worse. To complicate matters, regular marijuana use is known to interfere with the effectiveness of antipsychotic medications, further perpetuating the problem.

The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, June 2010 issue.

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