What exactly is teen depression? Teen depression is considered a disorder that takes place during the teenage years. It includes continuous sadness, discouragement, pessimistic thoughts, loss of self esteem (Teen). Teen depression can be caused by a wide range of factors. These factors include, but are not limited to family dynamics, social settings, peer pressure, and genetics. Depression symptoms vary for each person but the most common symptoms are: harming themselves physically, acting out, aggression which could lead to harming others, negative self image, fatigue, difficulty making decisions, irritable or depressed mood, and substance abuse. While these are just some of the symptoms, these symptoms impact more than just the teen and his or her family. Harming others puts other people that interact with that teen in grave danger ( Depression). Using illicit substances affects our society in so many ways. First of all it puts stress out on our financial situations due to the healthcare costs associated with substance abuse. Most teens either turn to cigarette smoking or smoking marijuana; it has been proven by many researchers that smoking marijuana can cause depression. If a teen has depression and then turns to marijuana to relieve the depression they are actually worsening their situation (Galanter). It is also proven by a research team that teens who smoke cigarettes are more likely to become depressed. So in theory, the self medication that is committed by teens is actually harming themselves (Smith). Having a combination of educating parents as well as teens, the incidents of teenage depression should decrease, which would decrease the progression of teenage depression into adulthood, which then decreases the amount of our healthcare money being spent on something that can be resolved in the early stages.
About 25% of depressed teens turn to marijuana to relive their depression. A study conducted by the Office of National Drug Control Policy found that many teens who claim to be depressed are not getting the medical attention they need, and are wrongly self medicating themselves to use marijuana to alleviate their depression. The study also revealed some shocking facts, such as teens that use marijuana at least once a month are more likely to have suicidal thoughts than teens who do not smoke marijuana (Two new Studies). Those teens are more likely to become addicted to marijuana then teens who are not depressed. The implications of teenage marijuana use are complicated but, teenagers with depression who turn to marijuana are at a higher risk of developing other mental disorders. Mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, and dysthymia (Teen). According to a White House report, one can increase their chances of developing a mental illness by 40% by using marijuana. Depressed teens who are using marijuana are not only exposing themselves to a risk of developing mental illnesses, they are also increasing their risk of becoming dependent on drugs, and increasing suicidal thoughts (White House).
How exactly marijuana affects the brain has been studied by many researchers. The average age that most people start using marijuana is 14. At that age, the brain is still being completely developed and adding drug use at that stage could really cause certain parts of the brain to become distorted. Tetrahydrocannabinol, which is most commonly referred to as THC is the active substance in marijuana that influences the brain in such a way that the outgoing signal makes a person paranoid and/or depressed. As another health risk, marijuana use also decreases the blood circulation to the brain which then leads to corrupt brain function and activity (Galanter). A study conducted by Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) reports that teens who smoke cigarettes are thirteen times more likely to use marijuana then teens who do not smoke (Boyles).
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