A five-year study by University of Montreal researchers found that use of synthetic drugs such as speed (methampthetamine) or ecstasy (MDMA) is significantly associated with later depressive symptoms in teens.
Researchers discovered use of such drugs at 15 or 16 years of age was linked to elevated symptoms of depression the following year.
“Our findings are consistent with other human and animal studies that suggest long-term negative influences of synthetic drug use,” said co-author Frédéric N. Brière. “Our results reveal that recreational MDMA and methamphetamine use place typically developing secondary school students at greater risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.”
Ecstasy and speed-using 10th grade students were two-thirds more likely to be depressed by the time they reached grade 11 than students who did not use the drugs.
In the study, researchers analyzed data provided by 3,880 students enrolled at schools in disadvantaged areas of Quebec. The participants were asked a series of questions that covered their drug use – what they had used in the past year or ever in their life – and their home life.
Depressive symptoms were established by using a standard epidemiological evaluation tool.
Eight percent or 310 respondents respondents reported using MDMA (8 percent) and 451 (11.6 percent) used meth/amphetamines.
Five hundred eighty four respondents were identified as having elevated depressive symptoms (15.1 percent). Investigators accounted for other factors likely to affect the psychological state of the student, such as whether there was any conflict between the parents and the participant.
“This study takes into account many more influencing factors than other research that has been undertaken regarding the association between drugs and depression in teenagers,” Brière said.
“However, it does have its limitations, in particular the fact that we cannot entirely rule out the effects of drug combinations and that we do not know the exact contents of MDMA and methamphetamine pills.”
Future research will be directed at learning how drug combinations affect a person’s likelihood to suffer depression, and if adults and adolescents differ in this area.
“Our study has important public health implications for adolescent populations,” said study co-author Jean-Sébastien Fallu, Ph.D. “Our results reinforce the body of evidence in this field and suggest that adolescents should be informed of the potential risks associated with MDMA and methamphetamine use.”
Source: University of Montreal