Teens using drugs to alleviate depression: study

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Washington, May 11 (UNI) Is your child suffering from depression? According to research teens are using drugs to alleviate feelings of depression ("self-medicating"), when in fact, using marijuana can compound the problem. The report, released to coincide with May's Mental Health Awareness Month, shows a staggering 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.

"Marijuana is not the answer. Too many young people are making a bad situation worse by using marijuana in a misguided effort to relieve their symptoms of depression," said John P. Walters, Director, National Drug Control Policy. "Parents must not dismiss teen moodiness as a passing phase. Look closely at your teen's behaviour because it could be a sign of something more serious." Teen girls who use marijuana daily are more likely to develop depression than girls who do not use marijuana; Depressed teens are also more likely than non-depressed teens to engage in other risky behaviours such as daily cigarette use and heavy alcohol use.

"Don't be fooled into thinking that pot is harmless," said Dr Drew Pinksy, internist, addiction expert, and host of VH1's Celebrity Rehab. "Marijuana is an addictive drug. Teens who are already depressed and use marijuana may increase their odds of suffering from even more serious mental health problems." "Not only are adolescents at greater risk for drug abuse, but they may suffer more consequences," said Nora D. Volkow, M. D., Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "There is also some evidence that in vulnerable teens-because of genetic factors-the abuse of marijuana can trigger a schizophreniform disorder." ONDCP is urging parents to pay closer attention to their teen's behaviour and mood swings, and recognise that marijuana and other drugs could be playing a dangerous role in their child's life.

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