Guest Author Dr. Hedaya: “Why do you keep smoking pot? It’s making you more depressed and will cause schizophrenia.”

"Trepidatious" by Mimi Stuart
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Many times, because they don’t know what else to do, people use drugs as a way of medicating themselves out of depression or anxiety. In the beginning it seems to work, but eventually the effectiveness diminishes.

To try to recapture the earlier benefit, people will use more and more of the drug, which backfires. Their lives fall apart, and the depression and anxiety come back in full force.

Pot in and of itself can cause loss of motivation, increased obsessiveness, panic, anxiety, loss of memory and of course weight gain.

Pot does not cause schizpophrenia, but if someone is vulnerable to schizophrenia, it sure can bring it on, make it worse, and prevent recovery. Use of drugs can be the person’s way of trying to medicate the early symptoms.

If you are close to him or her, start going to Alanon, which helps those who come from dysfunctional families or who are close to a substance abuser. Also see if you can get your friend into counseling and a 12 step program. If he ‘gets it’ he will thank you down the line.

by Robert J. Hedaya MD, DFAPA, Founder, National Center for Whole Psychiatry; Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Georgetown University School of Medicine; Faculty, Institute for Functional Medicine; Author: “Depression: Advancing the Treatment Paradigm;” “The Antidepressant Survival Program;” “Understanding Biological Psychiatry.”

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4 thoughts on “Guest Author Dr. Hedaya: “Why do you keep smoking pot? It’s making you more depressed and will cause schizophrenia.”

  1. admin Post author

    Response from Dr. Robert Hedaya:

    Marijuana activates the receptors (and many other receptors), which are already present in the brain; I believe (but I do not know) that it is possible that a very, very small number of people could benefit from it in the manner you describe, as it may normalize aspects of brain function. This does not mean it is not with out the side effects and risks mentioned above.

    I think it is unsafe to generalize your experience to that of the general population. It is also true that people have mind-expanding experiences with LSD, Ketamine and other psychotropic drugs. If one is going to use these substances, one must at least attempt a cost benefit analysis (to the best of our abilities). This includes genetic vulnerabilities, family history, effects on health (brain, and body), work, family, and society.

    Most people start using substances because it seems to correct an underlying problem, such as anxiety or relationship difficulties. However, over time, this does not usually work well as tolerance develops, side effects develop, and negative effects on psycho-social-occupational function develop.

    Finally, there are a variety of ways (beyond psychiatry and psychotherapy) of reaching deep truths and human connection. However, they take some time and work, whereas drugs (even antidepressants in many cases) are a “quick fix” which we in this society use, when other methods take in-depth and long-term work. Drugs, a shortcut to depth, harm many more people than they help.

  2. M. Spence

    Wow, what a narrow minded little article. In my life, smoking pot and using other drugs has resulted in personal growth and opening experiences not apparently available in any other way. In fact, I shudder to think of myself devoid of the depth and human connection developed under the influence of drugs. The insight, the deep vision of truth, understanding and wisdom gained by the use of drugs is unparalleled by a lifetime of sober psychiatric and psychological evaluation. To attribute depression and schizophrenia to the use of marijuana is to ignore the implications and contributions of a human history in a fundamentally flawed society (not to mention the wealth of information available on the positive effects of drugs.) Assigning easy labels to complex personality traits and recommending cultish therapy mills is both alarmingly simpleminded and regrettably status quo. All the stodgy halls of all the great institutions of psychiatric study will never equal one monumental experience of humanness under the influence of psychedelic drugs. People need deep human connection above all else. We have no greater lens for self examination than drugs. When we begin to recognize the tools at our disposal and to reject the institutional banalities holding back our growth, we will finally evolve as individuals and as a society.

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