Examining the Use of Antidepressants for Adolescents with Depression/Anxiety Who Regularly Use Cannabis: A Narrative Review

Danielle Hen-Shoval, Aron Weller, Abraham Weizman, Gal Shoval*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Depression and anxiety disorders are two of the most common and growing mental health concerns in adolescents. Consequently, antidepressant medication (AD) use has increased widely during the last decades. Several classes of antidepressants are used mainly to treat depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders by targeting relevant brain neurochemical pathways. Almost all randomized clinical trials of antidepressants examined patients with no concomitant medications or drugs. This does not address the expected course of therapy and outcome in cannabis users. Cannabis is the most commonly used illicit substance globally. Substantial changes in its regulation are recently taking place. Many countries and US states are becoming more permissive towards its medical and recreational use. The psychological and physiological effects of cannabis (mainly of its major components, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD)) have been extensively characterized. Cannabis use can be a risk factor for depressive and anxiety symptoms, but some constituents or mixtures may have antidepressant and/or anxiolytic potential. The aim of this literature review is to explore whether simultaneous use of AD and cannabis in adolescence can affect AD treatment outcomes. Based on the current literature, it is reasonable to assume that antidepressants are less effective for adolescents with depression/anxiety who frequently use cannabis. The mechanisms of action of antidepressants and cannabis point to several similarities and conjunctions that merit future investigation regarding the potential effectiveness of antidepressants among adolescents who consume cannabis regularly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number523
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Antidepressants
  • Anxiety
  • Cannabidiol (CBD)
  • Cannabis
  • Depression
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)


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