Thursday, April 19, 2012

Drugs: Speed and Ecstasy Use Linked to Teen Depression

The use of speed and ecstasy by secondary school pupils appears to increase the risk of depression by up to 70 percent, a study claims.

Scientists at the University of Montreal carried out research on almost 4,000 secondary school pupils to explore concerns that the two drugs, which have spread from the clubbing scene into schools, could cause long-term damage.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that those students who used either drug were between 60 and 70 percent more likely to exhibit heightened symptoms of depression.

The authors tracked the mental health of a sample of 3,880 teenagers from deprived areas in Quebec between 2003 and 2008, quizzing them on their drug use and later testing their mental health on a validated scale.

The use of speed (meth/amphetamine) was found to be more common, with 11.6 percent (451) admitting taking it, while 8 percent (310) admitted taking ecstasy (MDMA).

The use of both drugs was admitted by 6.7 percent of the sample. Teenagers in this group were found to be twice as likely to have depressive symptoms as those who used neither drug.

The authors claimed this pointed toward "additive or synergistic adverse effects of concurrent use".

"Our results provide, to the best of our knowledge, the first compelling evidence that recreational [ecstasy] and [speed] use places developing secondary school students at greater risk of experiencing depressive symptoms," the researchers concluded.

While they admit that the causative contribution of drug use itself to depression is "relatively modest", they caution that even a modest contribution can have "significant clinical implications from a population health perspective".

They propose that further research should be undertaken to look into whether depressive symptoms are an effect of neurological damage, which adolescent brains could be more susceptible to, and are keen to examine the differences between adults and adolescents in this area.

Speed, or amphetamine, is a widely used drug in the clubbing and rave scene. The drug make people more awake, overactive and chatty. it is generally followed by a long comedown and can put a strain on the user's heart. It can also lead to anxiety, aggression and paranoia.

Ecstasy is popular because it makes users feel energetic and happy, allowing them to stay up partying into the early hours. Its use has been linked to liver, kidney and heart problems, while its comedown often leads users to feel lethargic or depressed.

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