Teen “Self-Medication” for Depression Leads to More Serious Mental Illness

Source: Anti-Drug Update 5/9/2008
Customizable Open Letter Highlighting Risks Now Available for Distribution in your Community

At a press conference today, the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, along with the Director of NIDA, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and Dr. Drew Pinsky, announced the release of a new Campaign report showing that marijuana use can worsen depression and lead to more serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, anxiety, and even suicide. In an effort to urge parents to pay closer attention to their teen’s behavior and recognize that marijuana and other drugs could be playing a dangerous role in their child’s life, the Media Campaign is offering you a free customizable “Teens, Marijuana, and Depression” Open Letter for distribution in your community. The current letter is part of an ongoing effort to educate parents on the risks of marijuana and is based on a 2006 Open Letter originally signed by 12 healthcare organizations, including the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), and is designed specifically to be used by local groups and coalitions.

The report, released to coincide with May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, shows that two million teens felt depressed at some point during the past year, and depressed teens are more than twice as likely as non-depressed teens to have used marijuana during that same period. Research shows that some teens are using drugs to alleviate feelings of depression (“self-medicating”), when in fact, using marijuana can compound the problem. Depressed teens are almost twice as likely to have used illicit drugs as non-depressed teens.

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** The full report, “Teen Marijuana Use Worsens Depression: An Analysis of Recent Data Shows ‘Self-Medicating’ Could Actually Make Things Worse” can be accessed and downloaded at: http://www.theantidrug.com/pdfs/teen-marijuana-depression-report.pdf.

** The customizable “Teens, Marijuana, and Depression” Open Letter that you can use in your schools and communities to reach parents and encourage them to monitor their teens’ behavior and mood is easily downloadable from TheAntiDrug.com at: http://www.theantidrug.com/pdfs/resources/marijuana-depression-open-letter.pdf.

** Free anti-drug and parenting resources, including brochures, CD-ROMs, posters, and postcards are available at the Media Campaign’s online section for community groups, coalitions and non-profits: http://www.theantidrug.com/resources/.

** Sign up for the Parenting Tips Newsletter: Encourage parents in your community to sign up for TheAntiDrug.com’s Parenting Tips Newsletter, a periodic e-mail notification with advice and strategies to help keep teenagers healthy and drug-free. Sign up at: http://www.theantidrug.com/newsletter.asp.

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