Cannabis Might Worsen Memory and Stopping It Might Improve It

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

As of 2016, about 37 million individuals in the United States reported using cannabis / marijuana in the last year (1).

This is projected to increase in the future as many states move to legalize medicinal and or recreational cannabis or marijuana use.

As with many things like excessive junk food, excessive alcohol, tobacco, etc. being legal does NOT ALWAYS mean being  healthy.

For example, a recent study looked at cannabis and false memories (2), while another study looked at memory changes after stopping cannabis (3).

What was the first study? (2)

  • 23 healthy people aged 18 to 29 with and without tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • They were asked to learn material while sober.
  • 2 days later, researchers compared memory recall among those who had used cannabis vs those who had not 2 hours before the test.

What were the study results of the first study (2)

In the first study, subjects who used cannabis 2 hours prior to the test were more likely to have false recognition of words and pictures that had not been presented during the sober study session (2).

What does this mean?

This small study suggests that cannabis use might impact academic performance (2), though further study is needed.

What was the second study (3)?

  • 88 individuals (Average age 21 years) who used cannabis at least weekly were randomized to 30 days of abstinence or to a control group, abstinence confirmed through biochemical testing (3).
  • Participants underwent cognitive testing at baseline and then weekly for 4 weeks.

What were the results of the second study? (3)

This 4 week study showed that improvements in memory started at week 1 and continued improvement through week 4. (3)

What does this mean?

  • This small study implies stopping cannabis may improve memory; and further longer, larger studies are underway (3).
  • Subjects used cannabis atleast weekly, and it is unclear if there is a difference in benefit among heavy vs light users.
  • These studies suggest that Cannabis or Marijuana may impact your ability to remember, and may cause false recall during tests; as well as memory improvement after stopping cannabis use.  A previous post showed that cannabis may increase alcohol intake (4).

How else is cannabis impacting you?

What are some useful resources regarding cannabis?

Drug treatment group at OSU Office of Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service.

Treatment Facilities in the Columbus, Ohio area:

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville 2017.  http://www.samhsa.gov
  2. Doss MK et al. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannibinol at retrieval drives false recollection of neutral and emotional memories. Biol Psychiatry 2018 May 9; [e-pub]. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.04.020) .
  3.  Schuster RM, Gilman J, Schoenfeld D, et al. One month of cannabis abstinence in adolescents and young adults is associated with improved memory. J Clin Psychiatry. 2018;79(6):17m11977 .
  4. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/02/08/study-impact-of-cannabis-on-alcohol/

Poor sleep and poor grades might go together

College students might stay up late or have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.

A recent study looked at the impact of sleep pattern on grades.

Who was studied? (1,2)

  • 61 undergraduate students at Harvard college
  • They were asked to keep a sleep diary for 30 days.

What did the investigators find? (1,2)

Compared to peers, students reporting irregular patterns of sleep and wakefulness had:

  • Lower grade point averages.
  • Delays in the times people went to bed and woke up compared to more normal sleep/wake times.
  • Upto 3 hour delay in melatonin (sleep related hormone) release compared to students with regularly scheduled sleep and wakefulness pattern.

What are some caveats?

  • Poor sleep can impact almost every aspect of health and many parts of brain functioning, including learning, remembering, mood, energy level, decision making, etc.
  • This is a small study and does not prove cause-and-effect (2).
  • Students with erratic sleep schedules ended up sleeping the same number of hours as those with a regular sleep schedule. (1,2).
  • Study participants might have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.

What are some ways of improving sleep?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests the following ways to improve sleep (3):

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
  • Plan to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol before bedtime.
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

Anything else?

  • Some people may need to eliminate caffeine or alcohol completely.
  • If you have to use electronics in the evenings, consider BLUEBLOCKERS.

Consider seeking professional help:

OSU Counseling and Consultation Service

OSU Wilce Student health center

https://ccs.osu.edu/self-help/sleep/

How is your sleep? How are your grades?

By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. https://consumer.healthday.com/sleep-disorder-information-33/misc-sleep-problems-news-626/poor-sleep-habits-61-poor-grades-723563.html
  2. Phillips AJK, Clerx WM, O’Brien CS, et al. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. Scientific Reports. 2017;7:3216. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03171-4.
  3. http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits

 

Weight-lifting, exercise, and mental health

While the benefits of exercise on physical health are well known; exercise has many other benefits.

In particular, resistance training, like weight lifting, is not just about being fit or muscular, it can also improve emotional and mental health.

A large study looked at resistance training and anxiety.

What was the study? (1,2)

This was review of 16 studies looking at resistance training like lifting weights (1,2)

Who was studied?

922 participants (1,2).

What was measured?

Validated anxiety outcome measures prior to, at mid-point, and after a period of resistance training (1,2).

What were the results? (1,2)

  • Resistance training significantly reduced anxiety symptoms (Δ = 0.31, 95% CI 0.17–0.44; z = 4.43; p < 0.001) (1,2).
  • Larger effects were found among healthy participants (Δ = 0.50, 95% CI 0.22–0.78) compared to participants with a physical or mental illness (Δ = 0.19, 95% CI 0.06–0.31, z = 2.16, p < 0.04). (1,2).
  • Effect sizes did not  vary much according to sex, program or session length, frequency or intensity. (1,2).

What are some other mental health benefits of exercise?

  • A review of 15 years of research shows that exercise can improve brain function (4)
  • A study of 33,000 people over 11 years demonstrated that exercise may prevent depression with 1-2 hours PER WEEK of exercise (5).
  • May help reduce alcohol use disorder (6)
  • Reduce chronic fatigue (7)
  • Improve sleep (8)

How much should I exercise?

The recommended exercise duration according to The National Institute of Health’s “Physical activity guidelines for Americans” (9, 10):

  • For moderate intensity activity, 20 to 42 minutes a day (150minutes to 300 minutes per week).
  • For vigorous intensity activity, 10 to 21 minutes a day (75 to 150 minutes a week).

What are some examples of moderate and vigorous intensity activities? (9, 10)

  • Some examples of moderate intensity activities include walking, water aerobics, slow bike rides, etc.
  • Some examples of vigorous intensity activities include jogging/running, Bicycling 10 miles per hour or faster, lifting weights/resistance band training.

What are some precautions?

  • It may be best to check with your healthcare provider to make sure it’s safe for you’re to start an exercise program.
  • It may be wise to stop exercise and seek professional help if you notice:
    • Increased depression, disordered eating, and other mental health concerns.
    • Injury, pain, or decreased motivation
    • Obsessive behaviors
    • Other symptoms.
  • Exercise may not help without proper nutrition.
  • It may be wise to learn about proper nutrition and proper exercise technique, and exercise/nutrition plans, before starting to exercise.
  • It may be helpful to gradually start exercising to give yourself time to adjust to an active lifestyle.
  • It might take weeks months or longer for some people to get used to and enjoy the minimum activity guidelines.
  • Occasional periods without exercise may be important to prevent injury.
  • Figuring out what works best for you may give you lasting benefits.

Any useful resources on campus?

Any other useful links?

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Gordon, B.R., McDowell, C.P., Lyons, M. et al. Sports Med (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-017-0769-0
  2. The Effects of Resistance Exercise Training on Anxiety: A Meta-Analysis and Meta-Regression Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.
  3. https://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article%20folder/RTandMentalHealth.html
  4. O’Connor, P.J., Herring, M.P. and Carvalho, A. (2010). Mental health benefits of strength training in adults. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, 4(5), 377-396.
  5. Koščak Tivadar, B. Biogerontology (2017) 18: 477. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10522-017-9708-6. Physical activity improves cognition: possible explanations.
  6. Harvey SB, Øverland S, Hatch SL, Wessely S, Mykletun A, Hotopf M. Exercise and the Prevention of Depression: Results of the HUNT Cohort Study.   Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Oct 3:appiajp201716111223. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16111223. [Epub ahead of print]
  7. Hallgren, Mats et al. “More Reasons to Move: Exercise in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders.” Frontiers in Psychiatry 8 (2017): 160. PMC. Web. 20 Oct. 2017.
  8. Larun L, Brurberg KG, Odgaard-Jensen J, Price JR. Exercise therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD003200. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003200.pub7.
  9. Kovacevic A, Mavros Y, Heisz JJ, Fiatarone Singh MA. The effect of resistance exercise on sleep: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Sleep Med Rev. 2017 Jul 19. pii: S1087-0792(16)30152-6. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2017.07.002. [Epub ahead of print].
  10. https://health.gov/paguidelines/
  11. https://health.gov/paguidelines/guidelines/chapter4.aspx