Cannabis and Depression: A Twin Model Approach to Co-morbidity

M. Smolkina, K. I. Morley, F. Rijsdijk, A. Agrawal, J. E. Bergin, E. C. Nelson, D. Statham, N. G. Martin, M. T. Lynskey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Cannabis use disorder (CUD) co-occurs with major depressive disorder (MDD) more frequently than would be expected by chance. However, studies to date have not produced a clear understanding of the mechanisms underlying this co-morbidity. Genetically informative studies can add valuable insight to this problem, as they allow the evaluation of competing models of co-morbidity. This study uses data from the Australian Twin Registry to compare 13 co-morbidity twin models initially proposed by Neale and Kendler (Am J Hum Genet 57:935–953, 1995). The analysis sample comprised 2410 male and female monozygotic and dizygotic twins (average age 32) who were assessed on CUD and MDD using the SSAGA-OZ interview. Data were analyzed in OpenMx. Of the 13 different co-morbidity models, two fit equally well: CUD causes MDD and Random Multiformity of CUD. Both fit substantially better than the Correlated Liabilities model. Although the current study cannot differentiate between them statistically, these models, in combination, suggest that CUD risk factors may causally influence the risk to develop MDD, but only when risk for CUD is high.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-404
Number of pages11
JournalBehavior genetics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Cannabis use disorder
  • Co-morbidity
  • Genetics
  • Major depressive disorder
  • Twin model


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