Cannabis use and mood disorders: a systematic review

Front Public Health. 2024 Apr 9:12:1346207. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2024.1346207. eCollection 2024.


Background: Problematic cannabis use is highly prevalent among people with mood disorders. This underscores the need to understand the effects of cannabis and cannabinoids in this population, especially considering legalization of recreational cannabis use.

Objectives: We aimed to (1) systematically evaluate cross-sectional and longitudinal studies investigating the interplay between cannabis use, cannabis use disorder (CUD), and the occurrence of mood disorders and symptoms, with a focus on major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) and; (2) examine the effects of cannabis on the prognosis and treatment outcomes of MDD and BD.

Methods: Following PRISMA guidelines, we conducted an extensive search for English-language studies investigating the potential impact of cannabis on the development and prognosis of mood disorders published from inception through November 2023, using EMBASE, PsycINFO, PubMed, and MEDLINE databases.

Results: Our literature search identified 3,262 studies, with 78 meeting inclusion criteria. We found that cannabis use is associated with increased depressive and manic symptoms in the general population in addition to an elevated likelihood of developing MDD and BD. Furthermore, we observed that cannabis use is linked to an unfavorable prognosis in both MDD or BD.

Discussion: Our findings suggest that cannabis use may negatively influence the development, course, and prognosis of MDD and BD. Future well-designed studies, considering type, amount, and frequency of cannabis use while addressing confounding factors, are imperative for a comprehensive understanding of this relationship.

Systematic review registration:

Keywords: bipolar disorder; cannabis; depression; major depressive disorder; mania; suicidality.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depressive Disorder, Major*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Marijuana Abuse / complications
  • Marijuana Abuse / epidemiology
  • Marijuana Use / epidemiology
  • Mood Disorders
  • Prognosis

Grants and funding

The author(s) declare financial support was received for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. This work was supported in part by an operating grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR, PJT-190053) to TG.