TEEN cannabis use is to blame for 60,000 people suffering depression in the UK, research reveals.
Scientists claim seven per cent of cases in young Brits are due to experimenting with weed.
Experts found dabbling with the drug before age 18 raised risk by 37 per cent.
Smoking joints also more than tripled a person’s chance of attempting suicide between their teens and mid-30s.
Researchers said cannabis is not harmless, and parents and children need to be informed of the risks.
Sun’s You’re Not Alone campaign aims to raise awareness
Every 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide, and it’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35.
It’s rarely spoken about and is a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage until more is done to speak out and raise awareness.
That’s why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign to remind anyone facing a tough time, grappling with mental illness or feeling like there is nowhere to turn that there is hope.
Teenage brain is ‘more vulnerable’ to weed
The new review by Oxford University and published in JAMA Psychiatry, is the first major study to look at marijuana use and depression – a major trigger for suicide.
It analysed 11 previous studies involving 23,317 participants.
Scientists think the teenage brain is more vulnerable to cannabis’ active ingredient – THC.
They also warned the drug is up to ten times stronger than a generation ago, meaning any potential harm may be far greater.
60,000 cases of depression could have been avoided
Professor Andrea Cipriani, NIHR Research Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oxford, said the link to depression risk was “robust”.
He said: “We found 60,000 cases of depression in the UK would be avoided if adolescents no longer smoked cannabis.
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“Our findings about depression and suicidality are very relevant for clinical practice and public health.
“The widespread use of cannabis among the young generations makes it an important public health issue.
“My bottom line message is… to avoid using cannabis.
“It is a vulnerable period of development of the brain, and exposing young teenagers to cannabis is likely to increase the risk of depression.”
Bottom line… don’t use cannabis
Around one in 25 kids in England aged 11 to 15 have smoked cannabis within the last month.
Regular use by teens has also linked with lower school achievement, addiction and psychosis, and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.
Fellow researcher Dr Gabrielle Gobbi, from McGill University in Canada, said: “A lot of adolescents, 80 or 90 per cent think that cannabis is herbal product so that it’s safe, but it is not true.
“So it’s very important to inform adolescents about the risk and about the kinds of cannabis they use.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
“In fact today, it is not as in the 80s and 90s, when THC was about three per cent in joints. Now we have joints of 10, 20, 30 even more per cent and adolescents must be aware of this.”
One in 12 young Brits struggles with depression.
Professor Sir Robin Murray, from the Institute of Psychiatry Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s College London, said: “The finding that cannabis use is associated with a modest increase in risk of depression and suicide is probably correct.
“It does seem that cannabis use has a greater impact on increasing risk of schizophrenia-like psychosis than depression or anxiety.
“But a smaller risk increasing effect on depression than psychosis is still important given that depression is a lot more common than psychosis.”