One of the benefits that marijuana has been said to have is that it can help anxiety and depression. It may not come as a surprise that regular cannabis use has risen faster among people with depression.

This is according to a U.S. study, where researchers examined data collected from a total of almost 729,000 people aged 12 years and older between 2005 and 2017, including any prior-month cannabis use and any depression experienced over the previous year.

By the final year of the study, which was published in Journal Addiction, roughly 19% of people with depression reported at least some cannabis use, compared with 8.7% of individuals without a recent history of depression.

In 2005 there were about 10.2% of people with depression and 5.7% of individuals without depression used the drug.

“This perception of risk is decreasing more rapidly among those with depression,” said Renee Goodwin of Columbia University in New York City to Reuters. Goodwin is the study’s senior author.

“Those with depression who perceive little or no risk associated with use have a much higher prevalence of cannabis use, relative to those who perceive higher associated risks,” Goodwin added.

“There is some thinking that drug use is a form of self-medication of depression, or attempted self-medication of depressive symptoms,” Goodwin said.

“There is anecdotal evidence that some folks perceive cannabis as less risky than psychiatric medicines and with legalization, (cannabis) may be less expensive and more available and associated with less stigma,” Goodwin also remarked.

“There is no evidence to suggest that cannabis use will ease depression symptoms, except temporarily, and there are data to suggest that cannabis use may worsen or prolong depression,” Goodwin said. “Historically, patients in treatment/recovery from depression are advised to avoid cannabis use.”

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