Seniors: Arthritis, Depression … and Cannabis
October 12, 2018 | Chris Conrad | The Leaf Online
New research shows another reason why senior citizens are turning to medical marijuana in record numbers. The link between depression, arthritis and cannabis is part of the generational turn-around that could lead to greater margins of victory for cannabis at the election polls. Arthritis is common in individuals with varying degrees of depression, according to a 2018 International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry study.
Since both conditions are more common among the elderly, and both respond well to cannabis — without adding side effects like other drugs tend to do, cannabis is a natural fit. In the analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2011-2014 data on US adults aged 50 years and older, researchers found that the prevalence of arthritis was 55.0 percent, 62.9 percent, and 67.8 percent in participants with minor, moderate, and severe depression, respectively. This link highlights the importance of screening for and treating arthritis-related pain in older adults with depressive symptoms. In addition, understanding that depressive symptoms and arthritis may be interlinked in older adults is critical to ensure availability and access to appropriate care.
Investigators with the Alcohol Research Group assessed trends in marijuana use between the years 1984 and 2015. Authors reported that, compared with older Americans 30 years ago, older respondents today are some 20 times more likely to acknowledge using cannabis. This suggests the stigma of cannabis from drug war propaganda has been eroded and education is reaching seniors. “We found that rates of use among older groups increased quite significantly since the 1980s, especially for men in their fifties and sixties,” the study’s lead author stated in a press release. Their finding is consistent with those of other studies reporting upticks in cannabis use by seniors.