Teenagers who take Ecstasy 70% more at risk from depression

NEW figures have revealed a shocking link between the use of Ecstasy and depression in under-16s.

The study of almost 4,000 teenagers found that those who had taken Ecstasy in a recreational capacity were 70 per cent more likely to exhibit heightened depressive symptoms than those who had not taken the drug.

The study also detailed amphetamine use within the 15 to 16-year-old age group.

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Figures show that teenagers who took both Ecstasy and amphetamines – namely speed – at the same time were twice as likely to suffer depressive symptoms as their peers who had not taken either narcotic.

Previous studies have already detailed the popularity of drugs such as Ecstasy and speed within this age group.

Research has found that these kinds of drugs are now no longer isolated to so-called “clubbers” and have made their way into the general population, including secondary school children.

In the light of recent studies, concerns have been growing over the neurological effects that these illicit drugs can have, especially in adolescents where the brain is still in development.

In December, the Scottish Government released its annual statistics on drug use in Scotland.

It found that Ecstasy and amphetamines are the third and fourth most popular drugs in Scotland, close behind cannabis and cocaine.

In more revealing figures, it was found that a quarter of people had first taken drugs before the age of 16, while one in ten people reported Ecstasy or amphetamines as the first drug they had tried.

Dr Jean-Sébastien Fallu, from the School of Psychology at the University of Montreal, who conducted the research, said no other study has looked at the links between drug use and depression within this age group in such detail before.

“Our results provide the first compelling evidence that recreational Ecstasy and speed use places typically developing secondary school students at greater risk of experiencing depressive symptoms,” he said.

A spokesperson from the Scottish Government said young people must be provided with the relevant information and advice about the risks of drug-taking.

“Any type of drug use causes significant health risks, because you don’t know what you are getting,” the spokesperson said.

“Since 2007-8, we have spent £5.43 million on prevention initiatives to ensure that all young people have credible, accessible and non-judgmental information and advice on drugs to help them make the right choices.”