Within three years following an emergency room visit for heavy cannabis use, 27.5% of people developed a new anxiety disorder.
- Excessive cannabis use can make anxiety worse, according to a recent study.
- People aged 10 to 24 and men who have had a consultation in the emergency room for cannabis use are exposed to a particularly high risk.
- Thus, the authors warn against using cannabis to treat anxiety symptoms.
“There is continued uncertainty about whether cannabis use increases the risk of developing an anxiety disorder,” declared researchers from the University of Ottawa (Canada). In a new study, they estimated the risk of going to a medical appointment for anxiety after a visit to the emergency room for excessive cannabis use. To carry out their work, the scientists examined data from 12,099,144 people aged 10 to 105 who had never received a diagnosis or treatment for anxiety. Among them, 34,822 adults had been consulted in the emergency room for cannabis use.
Cannabis: consumers are 4 times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder
According to the results, published in the journal EClinicalMedicine, volunteers who received emergency treatment for cannabis use were at a much higher risk of developing a new anxiety disorder and having the symptoms of an existing anxiety disorder worsen. In detail, in three years, 27.5% of participants who had been to the emergency room for heavy cannabis consumption received a diagnosis of a new anxiety disorder in an outpatient setting, in the emergency room or in the hospital, compared to 5.6% of the general population. Thus, they had a 3.9 times higher risk, after taking into account social factors and other mental health diagnoses.
The authors also found that this increased risk of developing new anxiety disorders among cannabis users was observed in both men and women and at all ages. Furthermore, people aged 10 to 24 and men were at particularly high risk, according to the research.
Do not treat anxiety symptoms with cannabis
Now the team wants to know if cannabis use causes people to develop anxiety disorders or if part of the link between cannabis use and anxiety reflects self-medicating anxiety symptoms with cannabis. Regardless of causation, she cautions against using cannabis to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders given the lack of evidence for its effect and the potential risk that it will significantly worsen the manifestations.