Development of an Anxiety Disorder Following an Emergency Department Visit Due to Cannabis Use: A Population-Based Cohort Study

Can cannabis cause users to develop anxiety disorders?

That’s what researchers set out to discover in a study published in eClinicalMedicine, an open access journal from The Lancet. The answer was a certain yes.

Published in February 2024, the study was written by seven researchers—including Daniel T. Myran (a professor at the University of Ottawa and a physician practicing family medicine with an interest in addiction medicine); Lyndsay D. Harrison (a research coordinator at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy at the University of Manitoba); and Michael Pugliese (a clinical research coordinator at the University of Ottawa).

Specifically, these researchers were interested in seeing whether individuals who had gone to the emergency department (ED) for cannabis use were at risk for an unexpected healthcare visit for an anxiety disorder. To do so, they studied healthcare data on more than 12 million residents of Ontario, Canada from 2008–2019. The individuals were of all ages, from 10 to 105, and all individuals had no previous healthcare visits for anxiety disorders.

Of the group studied, 2%—34,822 people—had an ED visit due to cannabis. Within three years of that visit, around 12% of that group—2,494 people—had a healthcare visit or hospitalization for an anxiety disorder. The researchers found that the risk of visiting the ED for an anxiety disorder was indeed higher in people who had ED visits for cannabis use compared to the general population, and that younger males were seen to be at a greater risk for these healthcare visits or hospitalizations.

At the time of this published post, this study is the largest assessment of the longitudinal relationship between cannabis use and anxiety.

Considering how popular cannabis use is among teens and the drug’s clear dangers on mental health, it’s critical to spread awareness about the full impact of using cannabis.

To read about this study in more detail, visit this page.

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