Marijuana Abuse and its Affects on Mood
posted: Sep. 25, 2023.
Marijuana is a complex issue with varying views in society. While it remains illegal under U.S. Federal law, many states have legalized it to some degree for medical or recreational use. Attitudes have become more accepting in recent years as research explores potential benefits. Greater familiarity through use and research has shifted social views to be more accepting and tolerant compared to the early 20th century stigma surrounding the drug.
But like many other recreational vices, marijuana can be abused, and when it is abused, it can negatively impact mood in several ways:
- Increased anxiety and paranoia: High doses of THC, the main psychoactive compound in marijuana, can trigger feelings of anxiety, panic, and paranoia. This can lead to symptoms like racing heart, trouble concentrating, and feeling on edge.
- Depression: Chronic, heavy marijuana use has been linked to an increased risk of depression. Some studies show that marijuana actually worsens symptoms in people who already have depression.
- Irritability: Marijuana intoxication and withdrawal can both cause feelings of irritability, anger, and hostility. This can strain relationships with friends and family.
- Mood swings: Frequent marijuana use can cause unstable moods and emotions that fluctuate quickly. This is due to the effects of THC on the brain’s reward and emotion regulation centers.
- Apathy and amotivation: Heavy marijuana use, especially over a long period of time, has been associated with a lack of motivation, interest in activities and reduced ability to experience pleasure. This can continue even after abstaining from use.
- Euphoria followed by Dysphoria: The initial euphoria caused by marijuana wears off quickly, often leaving users feeling down, lethargic and dysphoric. This cycle of highs and lows can damage mood stability over time.
- Difficulty experiencing positive emotions: Chronic marijuana abuse impairs the brain’s ability to produce feelings of reward and motivation in response to normally pleasurable stimuli. This can leave users feeling flat emotionally.
While marijuana has gained positive attention and acceptance overall, it is still a substance that can be abused. And the more it is abused the more likely it will have a negative impact on the user. The clients I see who abuse marijuana, are mostly using it as a self-medicating tool to address anxiety-related, or situational issues, or depression. They may have started using it recreationally, but it often turned into a go-to coping mechanism. They are oftentimes in denial that marijuana is having an adverse affect on their lives, not fully understanding that at the end of the day, marijuana is still a drug and can cause or exacerbate problems in a person’s life.