Teenagers who use the party drugs ecstasy (MDMA) and speed (methamphetamine and/or amphetamine) appear to face a notably higher risk of depression later, new Canadian research suggests.
Interviews and mental health assessments conducted among nearly 3,900 10th-grade residents of Quebec revealed that, compared to non-users, youths who admitted taking either speed or ecstasy had a 60 percent to 70 percent greater risk of experiencing telltale signs of depression a year after their last recorded use.
What is more, those who said they’d attempted speed and ecstasy revealed double the risk for depressive symptoms, compared to non-users.
However, study coauthor Jean-Sebastien Fallu, an associate professor in the school of educational psychology at the University of Montreal, cautioned that his team cannot draw on a particular cause and effect line between depression as well as such recreational drug use.
“But researchers have improved two potential mechanisms,” he said. “That these drugs possess a neurotoxic affect on serotonin [hormone] levels involved in mood management. Or the mood of people who decide to work with these drugs is affected by the societal ties and influences that can include affiliating with other users, who may have their own issues and mood problems. And both those mechanisms would tend to be more challenging for youngsters than adults.”
The findings appeared on-line April 18 in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
All the pupils reported any history of either MDMA or meth/amphetamine use throughout the year leading up to the research start while in the 10th grade.
A year later, when the pupils were in the 11th grade, the authors followed up by assessing the onset of an assortment of 16 depressive symptoms in a typical screening scale.
More of the 15- to 16-year old pupils were found to possess used speed than mdma within the 10th grade: almost 12 percent vs. 8 percent.
The authors theorized the very fact that teenagers who used both drugs had the best melancholy threat a year out might suggest that the mix ends up being more compared to the sum of its parts when it comes to hiking threat.
Yet, as the authors did not tally how often a drug was used, they cannot compare differences in risk among regular users and infrequent users.
The team noted that earlier animal and human studies suggested that speed and mdma use may have a long-term negative impact; nevertheless, the brand new study couldn’t demonstrate whether melancholy proved to be a long- or short-term aftereffect. They also noted that other drugs alongside speed and mdma might have had an impact on depression.
“But it is also significant to know that we did control for a previous history of depressive symptoms among these students,” Fallu noted. “And we still discovered a clinically important association between this drug use and depressive symptoms.”
A host of experts weighed in about the findings.
“Certainly this study raises some really interesting points,” said Dr. Michael Mithoefer, a psychiatrist in private practice in Charleston, S.C. “And naturally parents should be concerned with kids this age using these drugs. But at the same time we do not actually know what the cause and effect might be here. Because one issue with this particular sort of retrospective study is the fact that you never truly understand what’s different about those people that determine to make use of substances to being with, compared to those who did not.”
Steven Shoptaw, a clinical psychologist and professor in the department of family medicine at University of California, Los Angeles, concurred.
“One approach to think about this finding is the fact that this type of drug use could be described as a marker for vulnerability for depressive symptoms,” Shoptaw said. “But we can not say, from this, that it’s the drugs causing melancholy. It could be other potent factors that go on in the life of a kid who uses these drugs that may be leading, like academic failure, like family madness, like [coexisting] cannabis use. A complete slew of other things.”
But Dr. Ronald Cowan, an associate professor of psychiatry at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center School of Medicine, said that the study should be required as a cautionary tale.
“This finding is just what I’d call,” Cowan said. “Because these drugs definitely bring about a long-term alteration in serotonin levels in the mind. Yes, the human data is somewhat equivocal, and more work must be performed. But the animal data is quite compelling. So I’d believe parents ought to be very concerned relating to this.”