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The Woman in 606
September 3, 2012 12:22 PM   Subscribe


 
A moving piece. I had no idea how dangerous pot can be for people at risk of psychosis.
posted by LarryC at 12:46 PM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I feel very mixed about this. On one hand, it really is a very compelling account, full of all sorts of tantalizing details, and an important message about casual drug use. On the other hand, a lot of those details are mostly a bunch of speculation at the hands of the author and the people he interviewed, and the breathlessness of it reads a little immature to me.

It strikes me as the kind of thing you become obsessed with if nothing particularly interesting or tragic has ever happened to you before, and then suddenly one day you play a tangential role in someone else's interesting story, and afterward you become determined to make it your own. Very voyeuristic. I wonder how his neighbors will feel when they find out that all their bits of conversation with him wound up being plastered all over the internet.
posted by hermitosis at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2012 [21 favorites]


Marijuana is a sensitizer, and the results are not always pleasant. It makes a bad situation worse. Depression becomes despair, anxiety panic. I have already mentioned my horrible experience with marijuana during acute morphine withdrawal. I once gave marijuana to a guest who was mildly anxious about something ("On bum kicks" as he put it). After smoking half a cigarette he suddenly leapt to his feet screaming, "I got the fear!" and rushed out of the house." -- William Burroughs.
posted by rmd1023 at 1:01 PM on September 3, 2012 [11 favorites]


Great post.

Someone close to me who is prone to depression uses cannabis medically for chronic pain. I'll pay more attention to her behavior and mental state now after reading this post. Certainly none of the doctors or dispensaries offering freebies to new patients ever mentioned any risks besides the usual stuff associated with smoking and heavy machinery.
posted by infinitewindow at 1:23 PM on September 3, 2012


THE CAT LIVES.
posted by roboton666 at 1:48 PM on September 3, 2012 [14 favorites]


As someone fairly familiar with the Oregon state medical cannabis scene I think it remarkable that the author didn't find anyone in Seattle who was aware of the capacity for accentuating certain illnesses. No one I've known looks at it as a hard and fast rule like "don't smoke cannabis if . . ." but more like "if you've had or are having certain types of trouble, engage cannabis cautiously if at all."

My own experience with cannabis and my own axis 1 diagnosis is that cannabis becomes unpleasant when my symptoms are otherwise unmanaged. I really enjoy smoking cannabis so that's actually been a motivator for getting stuff sorted out again -- so I can go back to one of my hobbies my problems occasionally deprive me of.

While there's certainly a case to be made for providing better cannabis safety education I get the impression the author thinks that these potential risks are in some way a case against legalization -- which is patently absurd -- let us not forget that while cannabis remains illegal the main harm our friends, family and selves face from prohibition is not chance exacerbation of existing illness but in fact healthy people being injured by state sanctioned violence organized in the name of the war on drugs.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 1:48 PM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Interesting. Also interesting Burroughs' quote. I have always been a regular smoker (frequent, regular) but I've been dealing with traumatic anxiety for a year and found it's about a 50/50 shot if this time it will help me relax or send me into a full blown panic attack. After a particularly horrifying attack in January, I significantly curtailed my use and haven't smoked since June. People are surprised, since almost everyone assumes marijuana helps anxiety. Maybe for some people, but it had the opposite effect on me.

I am always touched by the reach out to your neighbors stories, but I'm still crap at it. I housesat for a friend this summer and got a taste of neighbors who were involved in each others' lives. It was a lot of drama and gossip. It's hard to find a good balance, so I still err on keeping to myself...
posted by peacrow at 2:23 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


I read this last week, and one thing that struck me was how a decent piece about, say, neighbors who don't get to know each other until a crisis occurs, or failures of mental health systems in Wash., turned suddenly into a advocacy piece for a political initiative on the Fall ballot. I may likely vote for said initiative, but reading the article still felt like a bait-and-switch.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:57 PM on September 3, 2012 [3 favorites]


I sometimes get repeat admissions into acute psychiatric stabilization for people with behaviours categorised as "schizophrenia" or "schizoaffective' or "bipolar" and who tell you that in the lead up to the incident, they have been using a lot of cannabis for some time, relentlessy and without much interruption. For some of them, stabilisation happens rapidly -- more rapidly than you'd expect to see with a "classic" recovery path and sometimes even with minimal or no antipsychotic meds -- and I think a lot of it has to do with the simple act of abstaining from THC for a few days. I am unsure of the relative contribution of the THC itself vs the chronic REM sleep disruption they have been experiencing. For many repeat admissions, they have case managers in the community who often focus on the simple act of encouraging abstention or moderation in their use of psychoactives.

Of course, no matter how destabilising prolonged THC use may be for vulnerable people, my experience is that it's nowhere near the crazy-making potential of amphetamine or cocaine.
posted by meehawl at 2:58 PM on September 3, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know an incredibly talented designer who is schizophrenic. He used weed to self-medicate for some time before his illness made him unable to work, but I have no idea if his smoking postponed his full psychosis or hastened it.

Every time he gets his life a bit together he ends up smoking heavily again, takes a turn for the worse, and is soon back on the street with nothing. Correlation is not causation of course but he also obsessively uses alcohol and mushrooms for period of time and those don't lead to evictions, restraining orders and jail like his pot use always seems to.

A lot of solid medical research on cannabis should be done around what it should and shouldn't be utilized for and who it might help or harm. Current laws and noise around the issue seem to make that impossible, though.
posted by Blue Meanie at 3:01 PM on September 3, 2012


I get the impression the author thinks that these potential risks are in some way a case against legalization

Did you miss the whole section in there where he describes the minimal attention given to medical marijuana recipients here in WA State by their providers (aka the dispensaries, like the very one where the suicide victim had volunteered), the fact that they don't seem to be aware of the potential dangers of marijuana use by people with certain mental health issues, AND that those same dispensaries are very vocally against Initiative 502, the initiative on our ballot this fall that would legalize, regulate, and tax the sale of marijuana?
posted by palomar at 3:24 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


It is astonishing to me that people do not know this about cannabis and it seems virtually entirely linked to all the "reefer madness" propaganda we've been hearing for years. It's very clear to anyone who follows the research that it makes some people with schizophrenia worse. But of course, since we've been told such nonsense for years, people dismiss the data now reflexively, even when it's very clear.

Oddly, marijuana may also make some people with schizophrenia and bipolar better, at least some types: there is a component in cannabis called CBD that has been shown in several small studies to be as effective as antipsychotics without the side effects, but sadly, it won't be developed because it is unpatentable. Researchers are looking for an analogue they can patent, but this is seriously sad.

THC, on the other hand, typically worsens psychotic disorders but there is no evidence that it creates lasting psychosis in those not already prone to it. Otherwise, we would have had epidemic psychosis when pot use went from 1% to 66% trying it: schizophrenia rates stayed level during that time.

Anyway, bottom line is that you need to think critically about drugs and not automatically dismiss research that impugns a drug you like. There's lots of nonsense research, of course, but it's pretty easy to see through it if you think carefully and read up. And if you are using a drug, you should inform yourself about all its possible effects.

Also, the police need to be better trained to deal with the mentally ill. If anything killed this woman, it wasn't marijuana but the fact that the police barged in without first trying to get her out without terrifying her.
posted by Maias at 3:26 PM on September 3, 2012 [6 favorites]


From the article:

"Which is why it's a little hard to swallow medical marijuana dispensaries' vocal and almost unanimous opposition to Initiative 502, the November ballot measure that would legalize, regulate, and tax the sale of marijuana to any adult in Washington State. I-502 would generate an estimated $2 billion in new tax revenue over five years. Annually, $44 million of that would go into educating the public with scientifically accurate information about the benefits and risks of marijuana, stepping in where the medical marijuana industry has failed. Another $4.4 million would go into research at the University of Washington and Washington State University about marijuana's long-term effects, which might finally answer the vexing questions about causation in the marijuana-psychosis link. That's not even mentioning the $22 million for community health centers, the $67 million for youth substance-abuse-prevention programs, and a whopping $222 million going into basic health. Again, every year.

"We're against 502," Apothecary owner Stewart confirmed."

Here's more about the local medical marijuana community's push against legalization.
posted by palomar at 3:27 PM on September 3, 2012


If anything killed this woman, it wasn't marijuana but the fact that the police barged in without first trying to get her out without terrifying her.

I kind of thought it was the psychosis, myself.
posted by Melismata at 3:29 PM on September 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


This, exactly:

>>> one day you play a tangential role in someone else's interesting story, and afterward you become determined to make it your own

I thought the article was weak. Which is a shame because I think this is a really important conversation to be having.

>>> If anything killed this woman, it wasn't marijuana but the fact that the police barged in without first trying to get her out without terrifying her.

I'm all for police getting more/better training on how to deal with people who are psychotic, but there is no real way for you to know that their barging into her apartment was what pushed her over the edge (ugh, sorry - no pun intended).
posted by pupus at 3:34 PM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


Blazecock Pileon:

"I read this last week, and one thing that struck me was how a decent piece about,
say, neighbors who don't get to know each other until a crisis occurs, or failures
of mental health systems in Wash., turned suddenly into a advocacy piece for a political
initiative on the Fall ballot. I may likely vote for said initiative, but reading
the article still felt like a bait-and-switch."

You took the words out of my mouth. I didn't even finish the article because it turned from an interesting piece about someone unraveling and the aftermath that comes with that into an axe-grinding political investigation. Not to mention anyone who has ever smoked pot and been under any level of stress can tell you it's not something you want to be using if you're in any way unstable. I'm still shocked at the number of people that are oblivious to this. By people I mean those affiliated in any way past or present with communities of drug users. I hate to be reductive, but all things in moderation and for the right reasons is good advice to follow here. And now I want to know more about her, not her drug use.
posted by Ephelump Jockey at 3:40 PM on September 3, 2012


All I know is I whenever I smoke I freak the fuck out and hear voices whispering about me. It scares the hell out of me. Once when I was high a guy convinced me he was a dea agent and if there was a window handy I might have jumped out. Took hours to calm down again. Obviously it doesn't have that effect on everyone but it is not fun for me. I don't evel like to smell marijuana smoke anymore.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:58 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a Washington voter: I think the whole MMJ situation is bogus, and feels a lot like a criminal enterprise to me. I was talking with someone a while back, who is a pot smoker, and he said that you can't even buy weed anymore that doesn't have a MMJ sticker on it. Which makes sense, but seems bogus.

Looking forward to voting for this bill, and hoping my fellow Washingtonians do the same. Put an end to the nonsense...
posted by Windopaene at 4:17 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Quite some years ago, I read a book that summed up the psychosis/weed connection very well. This is not new information, but generally, if somebody (politics notwithstanding) is forced to chose between making a buck or being forthright about the potential risks the use of their product may incur, well... Magical thinking might be applied.
posted by qinn at 5:44 PM on September 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sad story, and I learned something, but was not impressed with the writing.

I'd never heard of any link with psychosis and weed. That actually makes some sense to me. My anecdotal 2 cents worth is that I've only tried it a couple times in my misspent youth and didn't like it. Major, MAJOR fear and paranoia if I wasn't in a very safe and comfortable environment. Having been diagnosed some time after those years with bipolar, I'm wondering now if that's the reason. I did try it once several years ago at home in bed when I was in severe pain prior to back surgery, and I will admit to immediate pain relief, but I still was unable to relax.

...it is not fun for me. I don't evel like to smell marijuana smoke anymore.

It's not fun for me to be around people that are smoking because most of them act like total idjuts when stoned. As bad as being the designated driver for a bunch of dedicated party drunks.
posted by BlueHorse at 8:19 PM on September 3, 2012


hermitosis: I wonder how his neighbors will feel when they find out that all their bits of conversation with him wound up being plastered all over the internet.

Acually, I know one of those people, and he is OK with it.

It's funny that you rag on the author for speculating and then you go and do the same thing.
posted by victory_laser at 9:06 PM on September 3, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't speculate at all, I merely wondered aloud. That's a lot different than telling you what they probably thought about it, and how that commented on society on a larger scale.
posted by hermitosis at 9:39 PM on September 3, 2012


1st thing - the guy I know posted the article on Facebook. So he plastered it himself; you can stop wondering.

2nd thing - I don't know the author, or whether he asked consent of his neighbors. Big disclaimer there. I don't actually know. But don't you think it's assuming quite a lot to wonder whether (read: imply) the author recounted bits of intimate conversations without asking? If he did't run it by these people, whom he portrays himself as caring about, then yeah he is a dickish, profiteering, lout. In all likelihood, though, he did.

Your entire post is basically an ad hominem against this guy. You're stepping too far. It's not voyeuristic - he was there when this woman killed herself, he was a part of all that. He's writing about his relationships with people who were there too, he's digging deeper about the woman and he speculates about the things he doesn't find. Which seems pretty true-to-life as far as these situations go. To me, the situation seems to pass the bar of 'things traumatizing enough to have witnessed to spend some time thinking and writing about.' But you don't, and you accuse him of never witnessing anything tragic or interesting. What is the use in making such a sideways argument?

It wasn't an A+ piece of journalism, but it was an illuminating account of something that happened in my larger community. I can see how it would be a piece that's significantly less effective outside of that community. But still, if you feel the need to attack the author's character I think you're reading into it too much.
posted by victory_laser at 12:11 AM on September 4, 2012


All I know is that any time I've been under the care of a mental health professional (long time ago now, whew), they've immediately asked if I'm using alcohol, pot, or any other drugs, and have asked me to stop any such recreational usage regardless of what or whether I answered.
posted by dhartung at 12:12 AM on September 4, 2012


Weed is a very, very bad thing for me. I get alienated, paranoid, and once could not understand what friends were saying to me because the sounds they made were so distorted they were no longer words. Another time I had to be restrained from going off a second-story balcony because I could not handle being at a party with cops at the door.

This shit was absolutely terrifying, and this was very minimal amounts of dope. I could handle acid just fine at that point, but weed was hideous. I have also seen a number of friends with mental health issues go right down the rabbit hole with heavy dope use.

There definitely needs to be more awareness of this issue, and more research done.
posted by moneyjane at 3:38 AM on September 4, 2012


I am astonished that so many people here and in the article say they aren't aware of the links between marijuana and psychosis. Perhaps its a US:UK thing, over here it features regularly in mainstream media whenever legalisation is debated.
posted by *becca* at 5:35 AM on September 4, 2012


Your entire post is basically an ad hominem against this guy.

It would be impossible to criticize this article without criticizing the person behind it, because he has planted himself square and center in the middle of the story, and it is all filtered through his (in my opinion, rather naive) impressions.

You're stepping too far.

You're too personally invested. I read the entire thing and actually pointed out some positive things about the article in my comment, but for me it was overwhelmed by these other factors. What do you want?

It's not voyeuristic - he was there when this woman killed herself, he was a part of all that.

It sounds like he and dozens of other people were "a part of that," but he's the only one who seems to have written a sprawling New Yorker-lite essay weaving elaborate canopies of significance around this event. I'm really glad it provided an opportunity for the author to learn and share info about the role that marijuana can play in some mental illnesses, because that's the kind of risk that more people should know about (I said as much above). I'm still allowed to think that his quest to discover and reveal as much about the victim as possible comes off as a little voyeuristic.

To me, the situation seems to pass the bar of 'things traumatizing enough to have witnessed to spend some time thinking and writing about.' But you don't, and you accuse him of never witnessing anything tragic or interesting. What is the use in making such a sideways argument?

Again, why so defensive? I think you need to read other people's comments a little more carefully. I didn't accuse him of anything, I just shared my impression -- which, as a fellow writer and editor, isn't particularly underinformed. In fact, a lot of my response comes from the fact that I strongly identified with the author, because of experiences I've had and the ways I've tried to write about them. It's an easy vortex to get sucked into.

I can see how it would be a piece that's significantly less effective outside of that community. But still, if you feel the need to attack the author's character I think you're reading into it too much.

Welcome to MetaFilter.
posted by hermitosis at 7:16 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I got the fear!"

I realize this is probably insensitive, but that's going to be my really stoned punchline for a while. And I won't explain it to anyone who asks.

I am astonished that so many people here and in the article say they aren't aware of the links between marijuana and psychosis. Perhaps its a US:UK thing, over here it features regularly in mainstream media whenever legalisation is debated.

Well, we're aware of it mostly because it's bunk, right? If marijuana use and strength has gone up as politicians say, *and* there is a connection between THC intake and psychosis, why hasn't the number of psychotic individuals also risen (re: Time F'ing Magazine)?

Epidemiology can deceive, but it don't lie.

The Drug Myth That Will Not Die

Debunking the Myth of a Link Between Marijuana and Mental Illness

Latest Research On Pot and Schizophrenia Runs Contrary to Mainstream Media Hype

Also, Wikipedia is also a good place for sources.

Inform yourself. Sure, there is some research that supports a correlation between cannabis use and psychosis, but it's not like this is some obvious scientific connection that has been established.

e.g. "Beautrais et al. (1999) examined 302 hospitalized cases of suicide attempts and found that 16% screened positive for cannabis abuse or dependence, compared with 2% of a random community sample. After controlling for depression and social disadvantage the study found this translated to a twofold suicide attempt risk for those who had a cannabis use disorder."

"I dunno about you, but to me that says that cannabis use makes you 8x more likely to kill yourself. "

etc.

posted by mrgrimm at 8:51 AM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


I thought the same as becca - there has been a LOT of coverage of this in the UK media, along the lines of 'well, unlike the nice mellow dope we had in our day, it's all strong skunk that will send your kids mental'. The NHS seems inconclusive about how much of this is anecdata.

As someone with bipolar disorder, I have a hard line about drinking to cheer myself up or because I feel down, because I have read so much about how substance abuse is much more common for people with mood and schizoaffective disorders. I've never been interested in drugs - I've been dealing with this since before I left home and had more exposure to environments where I could partake - which makes it easy, but part of me wonders if I've missed out on something amazing by never dropping acid or getting off my face on hash cakes in Amsterdam. (I had a lovely time there, though. It's a perfectly great place if the weed/hooker thing holds no appeal to you at all.) I can, however, totally see why people do smoke or imbibe to excess because mental illness is a very hard thing to live with and sometimes you just want to step off the rollercoaster for a while.
posted by mippy at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, personally I'm very concerned about people with mental illnesses, diagnosed or otherwise, who self-medicate with marijuana and other drugs.
posted by hermitosis at 9:22 AM on September 4, 2012


It wasn't precisely an emergency. It involved one person. It was contained behind a white wooden door. None of the neighbors were in danger. The cat was not having a great day. But by the sound of it, the cat was now moot.

THAT was the "craziest" part of it the whole story for me. I'm not a pet owner or even a pet lover but c'mon the cat was not moot.

Whenever I see SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb, we talk about the cat, too. In spite of being stabbed seven times, the cat survived, according to Whitcomb. He said it with awe in his voice. She made it through surgery and she was put up for adoption.

A cat dying is not an emergency, but a person stabbing a cat to death is, IMO. If I see my neighbor stabbing a cat, I'm calling 911 and saying get here fast.

however, totally see why people do smoke or imbibe to excess because mental illness is a very hard thing to live with and sometimes you just want to step off the rollercoaster for a while.

Absolutely, and there are various levels of mental illness, and it's clear that many people with self described mental illness self-medicate with alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, opium, etc., and for a lot of them, it works. For others, there are tragic results. It's interesting to consider how tobacco/cigarette addiction fits in.

It's also interesting that both of the suicides described in the article involved religion too, but ain't nobody gonna blame that, at least not straight out.

As someone with bipolar disorder, I have a hard line about drinking to cheer myself up or because I feel down, because I have read so much about how substance abuse is much more common for people with mood and schizoaffective disorders. I've never been interested in drugs - I've been dealing with this since before I left home and had more exposure to environments where I could partake - which makes it easy, but part of me wonders if I've missed out on something amazing by never dropping acid

To be honest, I would say you are missing out on something amazing (in re: LSD), but then think of all the amazing things we've all decided to miss out on. It's only one of them. (I think might be tripping right now...) There have been demonstrated side effects for lots of substances. Marijuana certainly seemed to be a factor in this woman's death.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:20 PM on September 4, 2012


Anecdote: All these weed lovers really only talk their own experience as if it's universal (a link between pot and narcissism?!). I smoked pot for a few years in my early twenties, then sporadically afterwards, and now never at all.

What I noticed, once my tolerance changed, and what I remembered after critically examining my memories of the way I felt and thought on pot--it makes me anxious, paranoid, and delusional. You'd never tell from the outside though, because it also enhances my introversion to the point where I don't do or say much of anything.

I've looked at a room full of people I've known for years and been utterly convinced that they were all actually cops or spies and that I couldn't let on that I knew or they'd spring the trap before I could get out of it. When I smoked frequently, I only had those kind of bizarre thoughts when smoking heavily, but without a tolerance they're closer at hand with a single puff unless I feel absolutely safe in my surroundings.

I don't think pot is universally harmless. Yes, I have a problem with anxiety, but I'm hardly alone. I've seen pot help people go off the deep end before into raving psychosis.

It can be good for some people. It can be fun for other people. But I don't agree with the "but pot isn't really a drug" line of thinking. I think it should be legal but also that there needs to be a more truthful dialog around its effects.
posted by yonega at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2012


I don't agree with the "but pot isn't really a drug" line of thinking.

I've never met anyone who does. It's pretty much always framed with its contemporary analogs--alcohol and tobacco--and alcohol is a hell of a drug.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:30 PM on September 4, 2012


I don't know much about the source, but

"16.5% of suicides in the USA are alcohol-related. An alcoholic has between 5 and 20 times the risk of committing suicide compared to the rest of the population. Individuals who misuse drugs are 10 to 20 times more likely to take their own lives. Approximately 33% of suicides among those younger than 35 years of age have a primary diagnosis of alcohol or other substance misuse. Among adolescent suicides, alcohol or drug misuse are factors in up to 70% of cases."
posted by mrgrimm at 3:16 PM on September 4, 2012


Agreed, yonega. I don't have a problem if other people want to do drugs. I do have a problem with people who say "you are a bad person because you don't like drugs."
posted by Melismata at 3:21 PM on September 4, 2012


Anecdote: All these weed lovers really only talk their own experience as if it's universal (a link between pot and narcissism?!).
...
I've looked at a room full of people I've known for years and been utterly convinced that they were all actually cops or spies and that I couldn't let on that I knew or they'd spring the trap before I could get out of it. ...


If you're willing to see oxytocin as the 'empathy hormone', yonega, your very acute observation of the narcissism of people on pot and your sense on pot that a roomful of friends was all malignant impostors have a straightforward explanation, because marijuana suppresses the secretion of oxytocin:
Exogenous cannabinoids exert robust effects on hormone secretion from the pituitary gland, having an inhibitory impact on neuroendocrine function that leads to the suppression of pituitary hormone release. For example, marijuana consumption in humans or {Delta}9-tetrahydrocannabinol application in rats results in increased diuresis (1, 2) and suppression of the milk ejection reflex (3) by inhibiting the release, respectively, of the posterior pituitary hormones vasopressin and oxytocin.
posted by jamjam at 4:25 PM on September 4, 2012


I actually came across this stuff when I was researching schizophrenia, and as far as I can see, the link between heavy cannabis use of schizophrenic episodes is pretty well-established. It's pretty much the only serious health issue w/r/t cannabis (although there is some research suggesting that heavy use before age 18-20 or so can retard brain development), but it's a real one, and serious.

But regarding the article... I feel so New York, reading this. Like, "Your neighbor had a mental breakdown and jumped out the window, and you're still having anxiety attacks? Jesus, you ain't cut out for the city, kid!" Also noted the foolish rabbit-hole the writer went down by virtue of seemingly not understanding that if someone with a serious mental illness posts on Facebook that they've been molested, this does not necessarily mean that another person actually touched them (doesn't mean they didn't, of course, but seriously mentally ill people say a lot of things that aren't factually true in consensus reality, however true they may be for them at that moment).
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 4:30 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was glad to see this article, because some of my Seattle friends laughed at me when I said that the reason I won't smoke/eat/ingest weed is because of a family history of depression and schizophrenia and a personal history of depression. I got a bit of 'lol you got scared by reefer madness/tricked by The MAN!'

All I can say to that is that given how much I do not want to end up like my aunt, the precaution of not doing weed seems like an easy decision.
posted by jacalata at 9:10 PM on September 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're willing to see oxytocin as the 'empathy hormone', yonega, your very acute observation of the narcissism of people on pot and your sense on pot that a roomful of friends was all malignant impostors have a straightforward explanation, because marijuana suppresses the secretion of oxytocin.

That's really interesting. I was mostly being flip when I said 'a link between pot and narcissism' but decreased empathy leading to increased paranoia completely explains how a little pot can turn a room of friends for me into a group of strangers with unknown motives.
posted by yonega at 10:37 PM on September 4, 2012


I was glad to see this article, because some of my Seattle friends laughed at me when I said that the reason I won't smoke/eat/ingest weed is because of a family history of depression and schizophrenia and a personal history of depression.

On the flip side, marijuana has proven to be fairly effective at treating depression in low doses, but I'm sure adjunct therapy helps.

...

Cannabis: Potent Anti-Depressant In Low Doses, Worsens Depression At High Doses - Science Daily

...

Cannabis and Depression - AAMC

...

and more on whether or not marijuana "causes" depression...

Here's the killer study, I think:

"cannabis dependence was associated with elevated risks of MDD in dizygotic but not in monozygotic twins"

that indicates to me that genetics matter a lot and marijuana doesn't much.

...

"If the relationship is causal, then on current patterns of cannabis use in the most developed societies cannabis use makes, at most, a modest contribution to the population prevalence of depression." - NCBI

...

"Many studies show no link between cannabis and depression despite appropriate statistical power, measurement, and design (Fergusson & Horwood, 1997; Fergusson, Lynskey, & Horwood, 1996; Green & Ritter, 2000; Kouri, Pope, Yurgelun-Todd, & Gruber, 1995; McGee, Williams, Poulton, & Moffitt, 2000; Musty & Kaback, 1995; Rowe, Fleming, Barry, Manwell, & Kropp, 1995).

... Those who consume marijuana occasionally or even daily have lower levels of depressive symptoms than those who have never tried marijuana. Specifically, weekly users had less depressed mood, more positive affect, and fewer somatic complaints than non-users. Daily users reported less depressed mood and more positive affect than non-users." - Decreased depression in marijuana users (PDF) (sponsored by the MPP, natch)

...

"It's a surprise to find a poster of brightly coloured marijuana leaves adorning the office of Melbourne psychiatrist David Castle. After all, Castle – a professor at St Vincent's Hospital – is, with colleague Robyn Murray of London's Institute of Psychiatry, the author of the prize-winning tome, Marijuana and Madness, a collection of scientific essays on the link between marijuana and schizophrenia. ...

"As our discussion weaves through the data, I struggle at first to divine Castle's message. Finally, it dawns on me. The psychiatrist is … I think … exasperated. "When it comes to the marijuana debate, science and rationality have very little to do with it: the truth about marijuana has been lost in the smoke of political rhetoric," Castle tells me.

- "Marijuana: What science has to say"

That last one is a pretty good survey. This forum thread has more links to research on marijuana as an anti-depressant.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:25 AM on September 5, 2012


I just found out today that someone else I know, who I suspect is bipolar, succumbed to psychosis after a couple of months of self-medication with cannabis. She was brilliantly talented. Now she's lucid for a couple of hours a day.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:41 PM on September 15, 2012


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