A five year study conducted with thousands of local teenagers by University of Montreal researchers reveals that those who used speed (meth/ampthetamine) or ecstasy (MDMA) at fifteen or sixteen years of age were significantly more likely to suffer elevated depressive symptoms 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 of the School Environment Research Group at the University of Montreal. “Our results reveal that recreational MDMA and meth/amphetamine use places typically developing secondary school students at greater risk of experiencing depressive symptoms.” Ecstasy and speed-using grade ten students were respectively 1.7 and 1.6 times more likely to be depressed by the time they reached grade eleven.
The researchers worked with 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. 310 respondents reported using MDMA (8%) and 451 used meth/amphetamines (11.6%). 584 of all respondents were identified as having elevated depressive symptoms (15.1%). The range of questions that the researchers asked enabled them to adjust their statistics to take into account 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 meth/amphetamine pills.”
The study’s authors would like to do further research into how drug combinations affect a person’s likelihood to suffer depression and they are keen to learn more about the differences between adults and adolescents in this area. “Our study has important public health implications for adolescent populations,” said Jean-Sébastien Fallu, a professor at the University of Montreal and study co-author. “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 meth/amphetamine use.”
About this study
Frédéric N. Brière, Jean-Sébastien Fallu, Michel Janosz, and Linda S. Pagani published “Prospective associations between meth/amphetamine (speed) and MDMA (ecstasy) use and depressive symptoms in secondary school students” in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health on April 18, 2012. The study received funding from Fonds Québécois de Recherche sur la Santé et la Société (FQRSC, 2007-NP-112947). Frédéric Brière is affiliated with the University of Montreal’s School Environment Research Group. Jean-Sébastien Fallu is affiliated with the University of Montreal’s School Environment Research Group, School of Psycho-Education, and Public Health Research Institute. The University of Montreal is officially known as Université de Montréal.
Some Montrealers and Quebecers are unfairly suffering because of the concentration of mental health services in certain neighbourhoods, according to a study that was led by André Ngamini Ngui, a researcher with the Douglas Institute for Mental Health, Université de Montréal, and Institut national de la recherche scientiﬁque’s Centre for Urbanisation, Culture and Société. The findings will be published in Revue d’Épidémiologie et de Santé Publique.
"Many studies show the persistence of unequal access to mental health services in Quebec generally-speaking and in Montreal in particular," Ngamini Ngui wrote. "Despite the importance that the World Health Organisation and Health Canada have given to the link between physical distance from health services and the potential users of these services, there has been no study to our knowledge regarding the geographic accessibility of mental health services. It is undeniable that the use of services can only happen if they can be physically reached."
The researchers noted that there is a very heavy concentration of services in Montreal’s downtown Ville-Marie and Plateau Mont-Royal boroughs, which despite their location, do not reach the largest percentage of the population in need. They then overlaid a map of Montreal’s most poor and least accessible boroughs, such as Parc-Extension, Saint-Michel and Montréal-Nord. For example, within the boundaries of the Dorval-Lachine health district, where material and social wellbeing varies greatly, the researchers noted that services are almost completely absent in the most unfortunate neighbourhoods.
"This has an impact on the fairness of access and use of services and therefore raises questions regarding social justice," Ngamini Ngui said. "The unequal spatial distribution of services is contrary to the objectives of the Canadian and Quebec health system because it increases inequality in the use of these services. The heavy concentration of health services in generally in the urban centre of Montreal has been demonstrated by other authors. The spatial localisation of the health services largely explains the disparity in access to them."
Ngui, A. N. et P. Apparicio, « L’accessibilité potentielle aux services de santé mentale à Montréal: approche par les systèmes d’information géographique », Revue d’Epidémiologie et de Santé Publique.
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